Low manpower hindered response in Bimini blaze

NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe.

NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe.

By Earyel Bowleg

Tribune Staff Reporter


NATIONAL Security Minister Wayne Munroe said there is a shortage of firefighters, especially on Family Islands.

He said some islands do not have firefighters because there are only a few in the country.

Mr Munroe was speaking after the fire in Bimini on Sunday that left 22 people displaced, four homes destroyed and three homes damaged.

Since the fire, the focus has been on the shortage of working firefighting equipment on Bimini. Residents insist the fire would have been contained if there had been functional equipment.

Mr Munroe did not address reports of failing equipment, saying he does not keep track of operational issues in the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

However, he said: “Some of these islands are miles long. There are two issues about fire apparatuses. For instance, I know that some people from Acklins put together and bought a fire truck.

“There are no firemen on Acklins so if you can remember, when we came to office, we went out and recruited 50 officers to join the fire branch because their numbers had run down. So, to operate a fire engine which is a specialised vehicle, you need training. So there aren’t any firemen in Acklins, but they have a piece of equipment that they were asking the fire branch to, one, come down and train persons locally to operate and also for us to provide some cover for it.

“In Bimini, for instance, there is a volunteer fire department as there is on many islands because we don’t have the manpower to send firemen to all of the islands. That’s just the reality of it. We don’t have sufficient manpower to do some other aspects of policing, which I wouldn’t disclose.”

Mr Munroe said he was briefed that there are two police officers on Bimini who “have some fire training."

On Sunday, Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe, the MP for Bimini, said officials knew they needed firefighting equipment on the island. He said he had discussed the matter with Mr Munroe before.

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Kenrick Morris, the Director of Fire Services, said the fire trucks on Bimini that failed to work were donated to the local government. He said the engine on one of the vehicles has been repaired since the fire.

He said the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.


empathy 6 months ago

Wow, Mr. Munroe, a man who always seems to ‘know’ so much, suddenly doesn’t no a darn thing🤨 His response is a disgrace and a genuine attempt to avoid responsibility. Everyone who ever lived or currently lives on a Family Island knows firefighting is mostly a voluntary effort; we have never relied on the RBPF Fire Services, it’s just not feasible.

However establishing and maintaining a standard for equipment, training and ongoing simulation exercises should be under government control. It would be good for the Cabinet to discuss ways to avoid similar situations in the future by addressing the above. The problems and solutions involve more than simply manpower and equipment and should be comprehensive and nation wide.

Let’s learn from our mistakes (and those of others); and let’s stop passing the buck. If you can’t stand the pressure, get out of the public service!


ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

It was a poor response. Coming from Mr Munroe Im going to assume he said something before he gave it much thought. Can happen. This fire for that small community was actually a "disaster", the response to disaster cannot be who could have expected me to know if the response equipment was working? The foundation of disaster response is to be constantly in a state of readiness


ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

"Munroe did not address reports of failing equipment, saying he does not keep track of operational issues in the Royal Bahamas Police Force."

Im reminded that these are very hard jobs.

We are always calling for competent people to be placed at the head of these agencies, I doubt anyone could be more competent and analytical than Mr Munroe. So we have another problem, can a functional member of parliament also run a constituency and a ministry, effectively, in modern times? Do they have the capacity to execute all functions?

I think Mr Munroe gave the wrong answer here, he should be aware of operational issues in the police force. If their equipment is failing how will they address national security?

As I said before if Keith Bell wants to address productivity he should start with Parliament, and Im being serious. We have lots and lots of issues but some are fixable by getting the right people at the top, getting the right advisors, empowering them to speak, ensuring every member understands the job responsibility, delegating power and responsibility, ....

and constant constant monitoring of operations. Its actually one of the most important jobs in any business/organization


BONEFISH 6 months ago

@ This is Ours. That is why you have local government and their elected officials There should be a next layer of real local government in this archipelagic nation. Ask Prime Minister Trudeau , who is responsible for the day to day management of the cities of Ottawa and Toronto?

The problem with Bahamians, yall love to elect and appoint people for the wrong reasons. This is my lodge brother,my sweetheart, who he or she people is , they skin colour or my church brother or sister.

Each one of these islands have different developmental challenges. There is shortage of skilled personnel on these islands. Of course ,the average Nassauvian do not understand that. They simply know what they were taught at the infamous University of Wulff Road.


ThisIsOurs 6 months ago

Who is "y'all"?

Anyway, I'm on the fence on the push for local govt. I dont believe anything is a cure all and Im wary that that's how the local govt conversation is being framed, as if its automatically organized and scandal and abuse proof.

In reality, they could fix our administration issues without local govt, just hire and empower a competent administrative "team".

I'm also skeptical of some of the persons putting themseves forward as "obvious" local govt officials. Really really wary of them. More of the same, elected on celebrity and talk show appearance vs competence or character


mandela 6 months ago

Excuses, excuses, excuses.


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