Marvin Dollison of the St. Maarten Fire Department giving a demonstration of the new fire trucks and equipment.
CAY HILL--The St. Maarten Fire Department unveiled three new custom-made fire trucks in a ceremony at the Fire and Ambulance Building on Monday, September 6. In commemoration of their service, the Fire Department named each of the new vehicles after one of its retirees – former Fire Chief Winston Salomon and firefighters Hilton G. Wilson and Godfrey “Gollie” Brooks.
Salomon had the honour of unveiling the fire truck that bears his name, while the families of the late Wilson and Brooks did the same for the other two vehicles.
“The hardworking firefighters of the St. Maarten Fire Department put their health and safety at risk every time an emergency call comes in. For this selfless service to the country, they deserve to work under optimal conditions with the latest equipment,” said Fire Chief Clive Richardson. “As such, I am pleased that our dedicated men and women have new custom-made fire trucks which will enable the department to carry out its duties in the safest possible manner.”
As the three vehicles are outfitted with the latest equipment and designed with the country’s unique terrain in mind, the new fire trucks will markedly improve the department’s capability to respond to a variety of emergencies, Richardson said.
Fire Department officials sat at the drawing board with the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) project team more than a year ago to specify and design fire trucks suitable to the country’s needs. The vehicles had to be able to manoeuvre efficiently in tight spaces and operate in hilly environments.
After this process, Rosenbauer – one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fire-service vehicles and firefighting equipment – was selected to build and outfit the fire trucks. This Austria-based company provides most of the firefighting vehicles and equipment to the other islands of the Dutch Caribbean.
Rosenbauer completed the fire trucks earlier this year and a small St. Maarten Fire Department delegation visited Austria in May to inspect the vehicles and ensure they met the previously outlined specifications. The delegation also received training on the vehicles’ use and maintenance. The fire trucks were shipped from Austria after passing the inspection and arrived in St. Maarten in August.
“As Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs responsible for the Fire Department, I would like to thank all stakeholders, including the government of the Netherlands, the World Bank, the NRPB and our Fire Department, for making this possible,” said Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs.
“I also thank Rosenbauer for the training that was provided to our firefighters on the optimal use of the trucks. These customised fire trucks will greatly improve our country’s emergency response capacity, as they were designed to operate on slopes, hills and around cramped areas.”
Jacobs commended Fire Chief Richardson and all firefighters for their diligence and sacrifice away from their families as they guard and protect the people of St. Maarten.
“As a country which faces natural disasters of all kinds, I must say that the Fire Department has done an excellent job over the past years with the limited resources they have. Growth within this department remains vital for St. Maarten’s sustainability. As such, I trust that the experience gained by our new recruits, from those who have come before, will continue to be passed on to all others joining the department in the future. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today,” she said.
Attending Monday’s unveiling ceremony were NRPB Director Claret Connor, Head of the Dutch Representation Office in Philipsburg, Chris Johnson; St. Maarten Trust Fund Steering Committee member Marcel Gumbs, Rosenbauer representatives, St. Maarten Fire Department personnel and officials of the French St. Martin Fire Department and the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) Rescue and Firefighting Department.