Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 12:50 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: It is a piece of history in the center of Orange Walk Town – but not the best place to work.
But on Saturday, thanks to 90 thousand dollars’ worth of renovations including new fire trucks, the Orange Walk Fire Station at Queen Victoria Avenue and San Antonio Road will be better placed to respond to any conflagration in the Sugar City.
According to Minister responsible Orlando Habet (Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management), the monies from the sale of the former Fire Service Headquarters on Cleghorn Street will be spread out across the country in infrastructure: “we decided, with the support of Cabinet that we would construct six new fire stations and refurbish seven of the fire stations throughout the country, thereby encompassing the entire Fire Department and not only that, we will also be able with some of the monies to buy, I think, one or two vehicles, and some equipment for the fire stations – refrigerators, microwaves, and other amenities.”
Orange Walk District will have a new station at a site in Trial Farm to the north, while San Ignacio Town, Corozal, Dangriga, and especially Punta Gorda are also slated for new stations as the last is in dire condition as Habet explained: “In Toledo, I’ll tell you, I don’t know how they have been surviving in that area but the entire structure is full of woodlice, all through the concrete building – the blocks – they can’t even plug in an electrical cord because it is full of woodlice, so what we’re doing there is possibly having to relocate because the area is really in a bad condition.”
Collin Gillett, Fire Chief, National Fire Service remarked, “So the idea for these stations, these are like modular stations that we want to build. There are six of them, $250,000 each, because we believe in putting smaller stations, smaller stations instead of just really big ones because the more stations we have in strategic places, it’ll cut down the response times for each.” He also spoke to a pilot project in Cayo where the Fire Service is trialing emergency medical services as part of its portfolio and further funding is being sought for expansion.
And it’s not just infrastructure – Dr. Kenrick Williams, CEO of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management noted: “We’ve been working on a lot of the intangibles. These firemen have been neglected for years in terms of their working conditions, in terms of their employment. We haven’t had a promotion for years in the fire service.”
Prime Minister John Briceño, also area representative for Orange Walk Central, paid tribute to the lonely but incredible work of the firefighters and the Ministry’s efforts at reform: “This is a testament that a lot can be done with a little. They spent approximately $90,000 to refurbish the entire building, put a new roof, paint, fix the floor, new kitchen, an office, bathroom, everything for $90,000. But that is done when you have people on the ground and a minister that is concerned and ensuring that we could spend the people’s money as best as we possibly can…”
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