Gov’t Has Change Of Heart About Separating Police From Fire Service

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The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has announced a major policy shift which will see the Police and Fire Services becoming separate entities.

Shortly upon assuming office in 2014, the new Gaston Browne administration was forceful that the two departments should remain as one.

Attorney General Steadroy ‘Cutie’ Benjamin told a firefighters awards dinner in 2015 that the two departments are best suited as one entity.

He repeated this in 2016, telling that same gathering that a separation “will not happen.”

Head of the Fire Department Elvis Weaver has always insisted that the separation of the two departments will be better for the force.

Now, after years of advocating this, the government decided at Cabinet that “the Fire Brigade will be separated out from the Royal Police Force and made a stand-alone entity.”

This means there will be a Fire Chief who heads the department and not the Commissioner of Police.

“The authority so to do will come before the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda at the very next sitting,” the government announced.

In seeking to justify the move, Cabinet said in a statement that “the object is to professionalize the Fire Brigade further, by ensuring that training consistent with the firefighters’ duties will be afforded the officers.”

Other laws pertaining to the fire service will also be updated.

9 COMMENTS

  1. This will be one of the biggest mistakes the the Government will ever make. Mr. Benjamin, please thorough investigations please before doing so. Persons have heir agenda and want to be under no control. Please don’t, I was there.

    • You show me any modern country where the police and fire service are “one”. There’s none! It is an excellent idea. The same way it was a great idea to remove Immigration and vehicle licensing from police. Police should stick to policing, nothing else.

  2. VESTIGE OF COLONIALISM

    Not sure why anyone should believe that ‘…Policy-Decisions’ by the Government should be seen as ‘…Policies of Mistakes.’

    On the contrary, what is contemplated, for many reasons, it is the correct approach to show the distinct roles and functions of of the ‘…Police and Fire Brigade Departments.’

    The regular police officers are not professionally trained in fire prevention or in extinguishing fires.

    Conversely, Fire officers are not trained in ‘…criminal law; …evidence and procedure.’

    Thus, if an officer is seen at the scene of a robbery, then you may safely assume he has been the victim of that crime or a witness to it.’

    If citizens continue to speak to independence, then this is a ‘…Vestige of Colonialism,’ Fire Brigade personnel, for some time has been advocating severing of its umbilical chord fro the severed.

    Those not starved of common understanding would know that the Police (a) …Prevent; (b) …detect; (c) …investigate crime; and (d) …prosecute offenders.’

    Conversely, the Fire Brigade (a) …educate and advise citizens in the ‘…proper and safety precautions when using of fire; (b) …extinguished fires and seeks to safeguard life.’

    When there was a report of fire, they rushed to the scene to extinguish a fire.

    An expert may investigate to complement and guide the police in ‘…fire and criminal investigation and prosecutions.’

    The time has come for separating the two departments, that each may breathe new life into each other and develop a thrust that they may have greater understanding and deeper appreciation of their respective roles and functions.

  3. I am not antiguan but a barbadian and it is a great move I speaking from experience as I has been employed in the Emergency Services in Barbados for the past 30+ years and our Ambulance Service, Police Service and fire service all have they own chiefs great move .
    It opens the door for progress and gives the fire officers the opportunity for upward mobility..

  4. The biggest issue is the Coast Guard being separated from the land forces and either go back to police or become an independent marine unit. The Coast Guard is stifling under the defense force control. Antigua and Barbuda’s area of responsibility is one of the biggest compare to other Caribbean countries but yet their resources (boats) are limited to do the job. SEPERATE THE COAST GUARD FROM THE MILITARY GASTON

    • Let’s separate Redonda from Antigua while we’re at it. Or separate potholes from the roads. Better yet separate the pork from the pepperpot. Why not separate All Saints East from St. Lukes?

  5. It might be a way of progress yes but I know who has an agenda is not looking along that line others ways are being looked at. But ….wl be seen.

  6. In most civilized countries FIRE/POLICE/AMBULANCE are all different services when you ring 911 or 999. This separation also promotes fresh recruitment to the respected services. This should have been done from 1981, but as usual GOAB likes to come up with bright ideas after the bulb has gone out.

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