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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 4, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesWATER ISLAND STILL LACKS FIRE SERVICE

WATER ISLAND STILL LACKS FIRE SERVICE

Efforts by the Virgin Islands government to meet its obligation to provide fire service to Water Island residents have drawn a declaration of war from the head of the firefighters union, Daryl "Mousey" George.
George charged Tuesday that talks between the administration and Water Island residents about establishing a volunteer fire service, using residents as a first response, is part of an ongoing effort to rid the territory of the professional fire service, and replace all paid personnel with volunteers.
The administration has flatly denied the charge, with officials saying the government has an obligation to provide fire and other services to Water Island residents. Special Assistant to the governor Roy Frett said the government simply cannot afford to do so now. "Water Island has never had any type of formal service and because of the fiscal condition is not good, we are presently unable to provide the type of resources to man a station, around the clock, seven days a week. The volunteer service will basically provide a service until we are in a better financial footing to provide the resources need for a full-time fire presence."
George sees the creation of any volunteer force to provide any of the fire services required as an attempt to undermine unionized professionals, as well as an effort by the government to avoid filling vacancies. "One thousand persons have signed on to a petition to reopen fire houses in Bordeaux and Dorothea but the governor has ignored the people." The two fire stations were shut down because of fiscal constraints
about two years ago and the unions have since claimed that the residences and business on the north side and west end of St. Thomas are at risk.
Frett said the administration has no intent of replacing professional firefighters,
but is interested only in trying to meet a minimum level of service requirements on Water Island. "This government has no intent of getting rid of firefighters to replace them with volunteers. "
The unions representing fire fighters have made it clear that they will use the current effort to provide service to Water Island as their opportunity to press longstanding demands on the administration for adequate manpower and equipment.
Despite all the attention Water Island is drawing, residents remain without fire protection. Somehow the government's inability to fund its professional service is preventing even volunteer work.
Ironically, as the differences between the administration and the union were festering during the early part of this week, Government House announced that in addition to repairing fire stations territory-wide, the division intends to hire 16 additional firefighters during the upcoming fiscal year.

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Efforts by the Virgin Islands government to meet its obligation to provide fire service to Water Island residents have drawn a declaration of war from the head of the firefighters union, Daryl "Mousey" George.
George charged Tuesday that talks between the administration and Water Island residents about establishing a volunteer fire service, using residents as a first response, is part of an ongoing effort to rid the territory of the professional fire service, and replace all paid personnel with volunteers.
The administration has flatly denied the charge, with officials saying the government has an obligation to provide fire and other services to Water Island residents. Special Assistant to the governor Roy Frett said the government simply cannot afford to do so now. "Water Island has never had any type of formal service and because of the fiscal condition is not good, we are presently unable to provide the type of resources to man a station, around the clock, seven days a week. The volunteer service will basically provide a service until we are in a better financial footing to provide the resources need for a full-time fire presence."
George sees the creation of any volunteer force to provide any of the fire services required as an attempt to undermine unionized professionals, as well as an effort by the government to avoid filling vacancies. "One thousand persons have signed on to a petition to reopen fire houses in Bordeaux and Dorothea but the governor has ignored the people." The two fire stations were shut down because of fiscal constraints
about two years ago and the unions have since claimed that the residences and business on the north side and west end of St. Thomas are at risk.
Frett said the administration has no intent of replacing professional firefighters,
but is interested only in trying to meet a minimum level of service requirements on Water Island. "This government has no intent of getting rid of firefighters to replace them with volunteers. "
The unions representing fire fighters have made it clear that they will use the current effort to provide service to Water Island as their opportunity to press longstanding demands on the administration for adequate manpower and equipment.
Despite all the attention Water Island is drawing, residents remain without fire protection. Somehow the government's inability to fund its professional service is preventing even volunteer work.
Ironically, as the differences between the administration and the union were festering during the early part of this week, Government House announced that in addition to repairing fire stations territory-wide, the division intends to hire 16 additional firefighters during the upcoming fiscal year.