Bag launches Red Foun­da­tion to give back Fire Ser­vice hit by sick-out bug

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - News -

A MA­JOR SICK-OUT is af­fect­ing the Bar­ba­dos Fire Ser­vice, but At­tor­ney Gen­eral Adriel Brath­waite is not rais­ing any alarms over it.

Re­ports reach­ing the DAILY NA­TION told of a se­vere short­age of man­power fol­low­ing about 20 of­fi­cers go­ing on sick leave since last Fri­day.

The is­sue ap­pears to stem from of­fi­cers’ claims of be­ing over­worked as well as a rift with se­nior man­age­ment.

Less than a month ago, Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Er­rol May­nard was in the me­dia say­ing the Fire Ser­vice was not re­cruit­ing as it al­ready had more than 200 of­fi­cers and were about to em­bark on an aux­il­iary fire of­fi­cer train­ing pro­gramme.

A source in the depart­ment said yes­ter­day that as a re­sult of the short­age, of­fice staff were try­ing to keep the sta­tions run­ning.

The source added that some of­fi­cers had been work­ing “38 to 48 hours straight”.

This was con­firmed by Caswell Franklyn, in­dus­trial re­la­tions con­sul­tant for the Bar­ba­dos Fire Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion. He said while the ser­vice could not by law en­gage in in­dus­trial ac­tion, he was there to pro­vide sup­port and ad­vice.

“About 20 fire of­fi­cers out of each of the three shifts of 28 have been on cer­ti­fied sick leave (re­sult­ing in eight of­fi­cers per shift for the en­tire is­land). Arch Hall had no one at all on Tues­day so staff from other sta­tions had to be sent there, while a driver from Wor­thing had to be moved to another sta­tion.

“They have per­sons dou­bling up, tripling up and more. I know of at least one per­son who has been work­ing for 52 hours straight. The men are burned out. They had men work­ing over­seas but [they were] ex­pected to get back and get to work im­me­di­ately,” he said.

How­ever, Brath­waite told the DAILY NA­TION that while he was told there was an is­sue with sick leave, it had not com­pro­mised the work of the fire ser­vice.

“The fire chief told me all sta­tions were up all this week. I am told there is some con­cern that 20 or so fire of­fi­cers called in ill and I’m go­ing to speak to the chief [again about that], but he as­sured me that our re­spon­si­bil­ity to our cit­i­zenry has not been re­duced dur­ing the course of the week,” he added. ( CA) worked ex­ten­sively with peo­ple in the di­as­pora who had been mak­ing con­tri­bu­tions to Bar­ba­dos.

“There are peo­ple out there who are will­ing to help us, and we need to show that we are will­ing to help our­selves,” the ten-time ca­lypso monarch said.

$200 000 gift

One of the more re­cent con­tri­bu­tions was a gift to the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hospi­tal of over $200 000 in equip­ment from the Bar­ba­dos Tampa Bay As­so­ci­a­tion whose pres­i­dent, Hen­der­son Grif­fith, is a trustee of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Bag said he de­cided it was “high time that I start my own foun­da­tion here, sur­round my­self with great peo­ple so that I can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion from this end.

“I came from very hum­ble be­gin­nings and I know what it is to strug­gle. I know what it is to have to share and from go­ing around . . . I’ve recog­nised that so many peo­ple out there are in need of as­sis­tance. I think that this foun­da­tion is ready, will­ing and in­tends to work ex­tremely hard to make a dif­fer­ence, to con­trib­ute,” he told the gath­er­ing.

He said he had made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to Ster­ling Chil­dren’s Home in St Philip over the years, and more peo­ple in need will ben­e­fit through the Red Foun­da­tion.

He said a num­ber of lo­cal en­ter­tain­ers had al­ready in­di­cated their will­ing­ness to help the foun­da­tion ful­fil its goals.

Chair­man of the Red Foun­da­tion, hote­lier Alvin Jem­mott, said the foun­da­tion was set up as a way for Bag to give back, and to as­sist Bar­ba­di­ans in need and fel­low en­ter­tain­ers who had fallen on hard times and push­ing the bound­aries of poverty. He said all re­quests for as­sis­tance would be eval­u­ated by the com­mit­tee and a de­ci­sion made. ( YB)

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