January 11, 2013

SVG embarks on partnership to strengthen capabilities of Fire Department

St Vincent and the Grenadines has embarked on a “Sister Islands” partnership with the island of Martha’s Vineyard in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.{{more}}

On January 2, Dukes County at Martha’s Vineyard hosted a meeting to discuss the development of such a partnership. The meeting took place following an initial request by Ambassador to Washington H.E. La Celia Prince for assistance in making the capabilities of the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Fire Department more robust. The Sister Islands partnership will comprise several elements for cooperation, but will first focus on the most immediate need, as pertains to the Fire Department.

Representing Ambassador Prince at the meeting was Deputy Chief of Mission, Omari Williams. He presented an overview of the challenges and needs of the SVG Fire Department and elaborated on the main areas of concern, including the fire prevention and suppression capabilities of the department. He answered many detailed questions about the geography, governmental structure, infrastructure and laws and regulations of the country.

The core idea behind the partnership is that people living on an island can better relate to each other’s challenges and constraints. The partnership will also facilitate cooperative efforts in preserving common traditions such as whaling culture, fishing and celebrating a long history of indigenous cultures. However, the proposed initial activity would be a preliminary assessment of SVG’s fire and emergency preparedness and the identification of areas that would be a priority for improvement.

Two key participants at the meeting who were instrumental in helping Ambassador Prince to advance the partnership were U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean H.E. Larry Palmer and Anita Botti, Chief of Staff for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. State Department. Ambassador Palmer spoke in strong support of the idea of a Sister Islands partnership. Botti, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in St Vincent in the 1960’s and who remains committed to working with the country, is also a long-time resident of Martha’s Vineyard. She believes that the Vineyard has much to offer and that this cooperation would be mutually beneficial to both islands.

Also participating in the meeting were the Emergency Management Directors from three towns on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the island’s Commission Planner.