Prevention Week concludes with open house – Fire fighters show new bush fire truck

POSTED: 10/22/12 1:04 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Fire Department closed off Fire Prevention Week with an open house on Saturday at the Clem Labega Square. The event provided the perfect opportunity for the department to not only perform fire safety drills but to also unveil its customized, new bush fire truck. The vehicle arrived on the island on October 10 and according to senior official Marvin Dollison the new truck is unique because it can fight fires while driving at the same time. “The other trucks you have to engage the pump and it cannot move. When we go to bush fires with the other trucks and we have to advance we have to disengage the pump first. This usually takes away the opportunity for you to fight the fire. With this new truck you can continue to fight the fire while driving.”
The vehicle was designed by the local fire department. “It had to be made to suit St. Maarten so we sat with the technical staff and decided on the specification we wanted before we sent the request to the manufacturer. Now once there is accessibility we can drive in and spray up to 125 gallons of water at the same time,” Dollison added.
Approximately 60 people make up the fire department and many of them were out on Saturday to mingle with the public and provide tips. They were especially proud of the new fire tender and other new equipment. There was a specialized booth for a recruitment drive to fill middle management positions in the fire department.
A sign read “people with MBO or Associate Degrees are welcome to apply.” Dollison said that both males and females were being sought. “We don’t discriminate, right now we have three females and we are looking for more. Fire fighting is not a job for men only.”

Suction pumps to control major oil spills were also on display as well as a decontamination suit since fire fighters also deal with biological and chemical hazards. N.C.W. Watkan Trading displayed fire extinguishers and other safety equipment while Nagico Insurances provided information on fire insurance for homes and businesses.
Many parents took their children to the event to foster their interest in fire fighting. They were shown how to correctly wear gas masks and helmets and given an explanation of the types of non-flammable materials that used to make fire fighting suits.

Dollison believes that Fire Prevention Week which started last Monday was effective. “Those that came out to the information sessions at the various venues asked a lot of questions and things that they took for granted, they came to the realization that it could have been something to cost them their home or life. People also got the opportunity to use a fire extinguisher under the guidance of a professional for the first time. They decided that they are going to purchase extinguishers as well as smoke detectors,” Dollison remarked.
Fire Prevention Week was held under the theme Protect Your Family Against Fire, The Time To Act Is Now. The event is observed globally by men and women who place their lives on the line to save the homes, possessions and lives of others. An uncontrollable fire is a real threat and the sooner people adopt safer practices, the better the island will be, the fire fighters said.

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