Officials learn how to tackle bush fires
June 25, 2010
Officials learn how to tackle bush fires

A five-day workshop on Bush Fire Management taking place at Grenadine House comes to an end today.{{more}}

The workshop comes on the heels of one of the worst dry spells this country has recorded in years and one which saw high numbers of reported bush fires.

In fact, during the period January 31 to March 1 this year, 84 bush fires were reported; this compared to 10 over the same period in 2009.

But more important, authorities are of the opinion that the local Fire Service is not fully equipped to handle the mammoth task.

And with the issue of Global Climate Change being an ever present threat, it is imperative that the local Fire Department build its capacity to handle the increasing number of bush fires.

“As Global Warming continues, we are experiencing higher temperatures which are causing the vegetation to become dry,” Assistant Superintendant Isaiah Browne, Officer in charge of the Fire Department, said.

But more significantly, he added that bush fires result in the loss of property, vegetation, and in some instances human and wild life.

“Our land space is limited, so we have to prevent bush fires from destroying property and vegetation,” Browne continued.

“The Forestry and Fire departments have been fighting a Goliath battle with a sling and a stone; they lack the expertise and equipment to adequately deal with the issue,” Hayden Billingy, representative from the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority (NPRBA), said.

The workshop will, therefore, address the areas of training and capacity building, Billingy said.

The NPRBA was just one of the collaborating partners of the training workshop.

Joel Tores, Regional Environment Advisor with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), spoke of the importance of the collaborative effort to deal with the issue.

He noted that fire management required an integrated approach.

Most important, Tores added that the organization that he represented was about to implement a strategy in the islands of the Eastern Caribbean which focuses on the issue of global climate change and the importance of protecting forests, vegetation and the soil, which in turn minimizes further risk of the effects of climate change.