Published 12th March 2018, 10:15am
Effective emergency response to fire and marine incidents in the last two weeks has demonstrated both the increased coordination between police and fire officers, and the benefits of recent technical advances and new equipment.
Fire officers confronted two serious fires during this period, at the George Town landfill (21 February 2018) and in East End (27 February 2018), both of which could have posed a significant threat to public safety has they not been brought under control effectively.
The RCIPS helicopter responded to both incidents, and, due to recent enhancements, was able to beam live infrared video footage to fire crews at the scene. This video enabled firefighters to pinpoint the areas burning, and focus their firefighting response.
“In the case of the landfill fire, we did not have a clear view of the fire from our ground position,” Chief Fire Officer David Hails said. “The video footage from the helicopter was a fantastic tool to help us determine the size of both fires and formulate effective strategies for extinguishing them.”
The video footage also contributed to the overall safety of the fire officers involved in both incidents, as it provided information about the swath and heat of the fires.
That same week the police and fire services also joined forces when responding to marine incidents. The Fire Service launched its lifeboat for the first time during the fleet review to honour Her Excellency the Governor Helen Kilpatrick on 24 February 2018, and patrolled the flotilla alongside police marine officers. On that day fire officers assisted with the emergency removal of a sick person to shore, and also assisted in a marine search for a person in distress offshore in South Sound.
“When the RCIPS and the Fire Service collaborate in this manner the positive impact on public safety is evident as it increases efficiency and reduces risk to the community.” Minister for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers said. “This close working relationship is leveraged even further by their utilisation of new technologies that enable targeted interventions which minimise the impact of emergencies.”
Minister Rivers added: I commend these men and women for working together to ensure the welfare of persons who reside in and visit our Islands. Their delivery of high quality services results in a safer Cayman Islands for all which aligns with this Government’s vision.”
Chief Hails said the Cayman Islands Fire Service continues to improve its overall effectiveness of in-shore search and rescue capability with the recent additions like the rigid inflatable boat, wave runners and rescue boards.
“The training we received from the Joint Marine Unit enabled fire officers to provide this kind of emergency response on the water,” he explained. “To date 28 fire officers have received hands-on training as to how to operate the life-saving equipment. We can now strengthen their rescue efforts while the RCIPS support our firefighting.”
“These incidents provide examples of the kind of interoperability among first responders that we have been training toward,” Commissioner of Police Derek Byrne said. “We are reinforcing each other’s efforts for the benefit of everyone’s safety on the islands.”
“I applaud the recent actions of the CIFS and the RCIPS for enhancing preparedness, response and recovery for public safety missions,” stated the Premier and Minister for the Ministry of Human Resources & Immigration, Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “Government supports our uniform branches and have committed budget and resources for the Cayman Islands Fire Service and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.”