Fire Service (Change Of Name) Bill 2013 – Bill No. 13/20132635 13 Jun, 2013
FIRE SERVICE (CHANGE OF NAME) BILL 2013 – Bill No. 13/2013
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health [Mr. Hamilton]: The facts are that what this Bill is attempting to do is to have the Guyana Fire Service return to its old self. The first attempt of a fire service establishment in Guyana was on the 12th October, 1957. At that time, the British Guiana Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service was formed under the Fire Brigade Ordinance No. 7/1957. The attempt by the Hon. Minister and the Ministry of Home Affairs is to have the Guyana Fire Service reverting to its original role when it was established in 1957. In the 1980s, or thereabout, sometime between 1980 and 1985, the Government sought to de-emphasise the ambulance service within the aspect of the Guyana Fire Service and the responsibility was given to the Ministry of Health, primarily the public hospital, to run the ambulance service. Those are the facts and the history of the fire service in Guyana.
In this regard, all Commonwealth countries and Caribbean countries, if the role of the fire services is examined it is beyond outing fires, and that is the reason why the attempt here is to have the Guyana Fire Service name change to the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service, because it goes beyond outing fires. If Trinidad and Tobago is looked at, it will be seen that it has a fire and rescue service - New Zealand, French Guiana, USA. It is not something unique and, as I said earlier, it is not inventing something; it is something that was there before and was changed in the 1980s.
Fire services throughout the world have been engaging in activities other than firefighting, as indicated by the Hon. Minister, road accident emergencies. We, who look at television, would see that when there is an accident there is the Emergency Medical Services (EMS). We will also see the fire service rendering assistance. For that matter, there are some accidents in which the only entity that can extricate the injured from the vehicle is the fire service. The only entity that has the necessary equipment to extricate a person from a vehicle in certain type of accidents is the fire service - road accidents.
Fire service is involved in land and rescue search, certain rescue operations and, structural collapses. It a house falls, it is the fire service that will have to intervene. It participates in emergency medical services. Aircraft emergencies rescue, it is the fire service. For countries that are prone to earthquakes, it is the fire service; countries that are prone to hurricanes disasters, countries that are prone to typhoon disasters, and so, is the fire service that is called. The fire service must not be seen as just some men and women trained to out some fires and to investigate after a fire. If there are chemical spills, it is the fire service that is called upon to work and for us, in Guyana, who are thinking about getting involved in the activities of petroleum, we would want to and need to have a fire service that is well equipped and prepared to deal with the new situations that will occur.
Presently, the fire service, if the present Act is read, some of the activities, which it should be doing, it is incapable of doing. As I understand it, the Guyana Fire Service is preparing for the added roles that it has to play. It did not sit and wait. As I understand it, the Guyana Fire Service, via the Ministry of Home Affairs, has already sent persons overseas and otherwise to be trained to deal with the new situation that it will be confronting with beyond firefighting.
The other issue, I would say, is that I believe that the Guyana Fire Service, which will become the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service if this Bill is accepted and passed, will be in a better position, in my view, to run an ambulance service. Why I say that is because it is a regimental organisation that is filled with discipline and so the situation that we have presently, regarding the service, I believe...
Mr. Speaker: Hon. Member, are you saying that your Ministry does not have the capacities...
Mr. Hamilton: Mr. Speaker, it is evident, to all Guyanese, that presently what entails need to be complemented, supplemented and upgraded. All of us live here. I am saying that the intervention of the Ministry of Home Affairs is timely and it is important and that is why all of us in this House should support the intention and the Bill that is before us.
I have sought to indicate to this National Assembly the fact that we are attempting to have the Guyana Fire Service reverts to the role that it was established to perform in 1957 to deal with more than fire, to have involved in rescue, to have an efficient and effective ambulance service. The Guyana Fire Service (Change of Name) Bill 2013 – Bill No. 13 that is before us, I would submit that all of us, in my humble opinion, should support this Bill and to seek to help the Guyana Fire Service and its members to develop beyond where they are at, as I said earlier. In my discourses with the Guyana Fire Service leadership, it has indicated that it...
Mr. Speaker: One second Hon. Member. Hon. Members, there is someone in the chamber who has a cell phone and who is allowing it to just ping without any regard for our rules. I am hearing it. It is just going ping, ping, ping. Whoever it is, could you just silence it or shut it off? It is not fair to the rest of us. Even as I am speaking I am hearing it. The sound seems to be coming from the left...
Mr. Hamilton: As I have said, I have tried to, in my brief remarks, here, capture the real role of a fire service in a modern society. It is beyond outing fires. It is, as I have outlined, that the fire service members have gone for the necessary training, first aid training. They have gone for the training for the necessary emergencies that they will have to deal with in the future. We, as indicted by the Minister in the National Assembly, just several weeks ago, voted the necessary provision to equip the Guyana Fire Service with four ambulances to begin its exercise. I suspect that recognising, firstly, that we are reverting to where we started in 1957 and, secondly, recognising that we have already voted provision for the Guyana Fire Service to be involved in this role, extending its scope and its name to the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service, I, therefore, will urge that all us support the necessary name change and the activities that will follow regarding the Guyana Fire and Rescue Service.
Thank you very much. [Applause]
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