Manager of Transmission and Distribution at the state-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) Joel Thomas has dismissed statements that a particular fire hydrant in the River Sallee, St. Patrick area is not usable.
In an interview with THE NEW TODAY last week Friday, Thomas said he is unaware “of any area around the island where there are fire hydrants that (are) not working.”
This newspaper contacted Thomas amidst concerns raised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) last week, following a recent spate of fires in the parish of St. Patrick’s, in which three (3) business places were totally destroyed by fire.
NDC Deputy Political Leader and Caretaker for St. Patrick East, Joseph Andall told a press conference last week Monday that “in the case of the fire in River Sallee, after the fire truck arrived there was no water in the fire hydrants or it was not usable.”
However, Thomas indicated that his department, which is responsible for installing fire hydrants around the country, maintaining, fixing and replacing broken mechanical gadgets on the fire hydrants has not received notice from the Fire Department that the fire hydrant in question is not operational.
He said the possibility existed that there was no water in the area at the time of the fire due to NAWASA’s new valve regulation aimed at moderating the use of water in the height of the Dry Season.
A small grocery shop in the Mt. Rich area and a bar/vegetable outlet in the Mt. Fendue, Rose Hill junction were also totally destroyed by fire.
Thomas told THE NEW TODAY that since the last drought experienced in 2010, alternative sites have been identified around the country to source water from especially during the dry season.
He said officials from his department along with the Fire Department of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) were involved in the site identification process.
The NDC Deputy Political Leader noted that “the problem faced in St. Patrick is that we have a fire station, which is rented by the government in the La Fortune area (but) “for the past few months the fire station has been manned by fighters but no fire trucks are available.”
Andall expressed concern that “whenever a fire breaks out in any part of St. Patrick, the residents are forced to resort to calling the Grenville and Gouyave Fire stations.”
“It can make a big difference whether the fire truck is coming from five (5) minutes away as opposed to 25 minutes away,” Andall said, adding that “this is really what we believe would have led to the total destruction of the three premises.”
“It is unacceptable (that) in the height of the dry season for people to run the risk of having no recourse to fire fighting equipments in the unfortunate event of a fire.
“We also believe that there should be regular checks and maintenance on the fire hydrants not only in St. Patrick’s but throughout Grenada.
“These are things which we (NDC) believe that proactive measures must be taken. We should not wait until a disaster happens before we take corrective measures.
The NDC Deputy Political Leader called on “the Government of Grenada and in particular the Members of Parliament for St. Patrick’s East and West, Clifton Paul and Anthony Boatswain to do the right thing and ensure that the people of St. Patrick’s have access to proper fire services.”
According to Thomas, the Fire Department is responsible for making the necessary checks and to report all damaged, faulty or non-functioning hydrants to NAWASA, which is responsible for resolving the problems.
Attempts by this newspaper to solicit a comment from the Fire Department in this regard proved futile.
The NDC Deputy Political Leader also voiced concern that the people of St. Patrick are also faced with a situation where there is not a functioning ambulance in the parish.
Andall stated that “sometimes the ambulance is there but it is just a shell for a lack of maintenance and parts and so on.”
He again issued a call this time for the “MP’s for area and the Minister for Health, Nicholas Steele to ensure that at all times the people of St. Patrick and all rural areas in the country to have reasonable access to ambulance services.”