Interim General Commander of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department (BKCN) Albert Gieling and Chief of the Fire Department on Saba Julio Every met with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and representatives of the Public Entity Saba on Friday, November 15 to discuss a number of developments.
The agenda of the periodic meeting focused on the developments within the BKCN, but other topics were discussed as well, including the two large fires on Saba this year. The BKCN is working on further developing the organization. A management plan for the period 2020-2023 has been drafted. Input was given by the Saba Executive Council for this plan.
With the 2020-2023 management plan, BKCN will further work on its vision, which is to be a modern, exemplary organization in which prevention plays a large role, but which is also strong and well-organized. In the process of creating a more robust organization, the Fire Department will be hiring four new fire fighters to strengthen the Saba team. The intention is to also get professional part-time fire fighters who can assist in case of a fire or other calamity.
“We are the point of making an important step forward in the development of our organization, so it is important to communicate that with the government and also with the Fire Department personnel,” said Gieling, who explained that an important part of his visit to Saba was dedicated to a meeting with the personnel on Saba.
A primary issue for the BKCN as well as the Public Entity Saba is the process to evolve from a response focused organization to prevention focused organization. One of the challenges that Saba faces when there is a fire is the limited availability of water connections in certain areas. A plan of action is in effect to deal with those challenges.
The aspect of raising awareness and what citizens can do to increase safety was also discussed at Friday’s meeting. The Fire Department on Saba organized a Fire Prevention Week earlier this month, and the intention is to do this more often in order to raise awareness in the community.
The BKCN and the Public Entity Saba have joined forces to put a new fire prevention policy for (commercial) buildings and apartment complexes in place as a next step to have fire prevention play a more central role.
As part of the implementation of the 2020-2023 management plan and the new structure, Saba Fire Chief Julio Every per January 1, 2020 will also become responsible for logistics and technical matters for the overall BKCN organization. This additional responsibility means that Every will become in charge of, for example, the procurement of new equipment, the maintenance of equipment and buildings, as well as items that the firemen need in their job such as uniforms and portable radio telephones. “I look forward to the challenge,” said Every.
Besides Governor Johnson and Commanders Gieling and Every, also present at the meeting on Friday were Island Secretary Tim Muller, Head of the Planning Bureau Bobby Zagers and Disaster Management Advisor Pauline Kauffmann.