GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Fire Department recently increased their team of firefighters with 13 new recruits after all successfully passed and completed the examination process on March 31st, 2021.
The Fire Department received over 100 applications of which those applicants had to complete a general knowledge test and perform a physical test. Out the 100+ applicants, 20 were qualified and had to provide a medical declaration and a police record. Out of the 20, 13 eventually went on to complete the trainings and examinations along with two other firefighters already working at the Fire Department.
Some unexpected challenges were experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic however, the recruits remained determined to complete the process. The majority of Fire Department personnel were involved in the trajectory of the recruitment process as instructors, examiners, coaches, trainers, and other functions that were essential to the overall success of the recruits’ course completion.
The course completed was the latest basic firefighter course (Manschap A) which is developed and recognized by the Institute of Physical Safety (IFV) and the Dutch Caribbean Fire Departments. IFV develops and manages the knowledge and education for the Dutch Caribbean Fire Departments and the 25 safety regions in the Netherlands.
Stichting Brandweeropleidingen (BOGO), a firefighting training institute prepared and assisted the entire local training staff during the course. BOGO who renders similar support to Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius is also responsible for the training of six safety regions in the Netherlands.
BOGO has been assisting the Sint Maarten Fire Department over the last five years by updating the local instructors with the latest developments in firefighting and assisted the local administration’s transition from class based to combined learning (online and practical).
The course provided an online learning environment (ELO) and instructors who then helped and reviewed the different online assignments by the recruits. Every theoretical module included practical trainings and the main modules were firefighting, search and rescue, hazardous material incident response, aircraft firefighting support and industrial incidents.
The exams were administered by an exam board that consisted of local examinators and was chaired by senior fire officer Anagertrudes Rodriques from the Curacao Fire Department.
After completing and passing all examinations, the recruits have now entered a trial period where they will be working on shift where experience will be gained, and all knowledge obtained from the courses will be applied.
Fire Chief Clive Richardson said he would like to wish all new recruits much success moving forward as firefighters.
The Fire Department has continued to improve the services provided to the people of Sint Maarten by ensuring that both new and old personnel remain up to date with the current global safety demands. Over the past years, other Fire Department personnel have also been actively enhancing their education within the various fields.
As of recent Shanell James, Acting Section head of Material and Logistics completed the Vakofficier van Dienst (OVD) course in Curacao in 2017 and then in 2020 obtained his HOvD certificate after completing the necessary course also in Curacao.
Marvin Dollison and William York in 2016 both obtained their Vakofficier van Dienst (OVD) diplomas in Bonaire after completing various trainings and other required courses.
The course / training was the first of its kind to be held in this part of the Dutch Caribbean where participants hailed from Sint Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
After successfully obtaining an OVD diploma, participants are qualified and rank as “officer on duty” where they are able to coordinate large incidents by means of a peloton, which consists of four fully manned fire trucks, one rescue vehicle, one communication vehicle and one submergible pump on top of a hook lift vehicle. They are also trained to be the head of the COPI (Command at the Place of the Incident) by large calamities.
The Fire Department believes in the continuous learning cycle and will therefore continue to encourage and aid all personnel with enhancing their skills and knowledge whether by participating in regional and local trainings / courses.
The Fire Departments wants to continue to ensure that Sint Maarten remains safe and secured as it is a duty of the department to promote excellence in safety and preparedness.