REPORT #89 August 1999

Produced by the Belize Development Trust
There is no such thing as a Belize National Fire Service. The denizens of the port Belize City like to bandy this title around, as they do so many other "National" titles, from sports to scouts. Though the scouts have tried to go National these past two years. The facts of the matter are, most "National" titled endeavors are a bit like government services. They are solely for the port town of Belize City, the old capital of the colony of British Honduras and only one district capital of six district capitals. Most National titles and endeavors are myths to placate the voters of only one town in the nation of Belize. In an article by Richard Hulse in the August 1, 1999 newspaper the Reporter. He points out that the re-curring fires that wipe out strings of wooden houses and blocks of houses and stores in the old port capital of the old colony are the result of political patronage for the "National Fire Service". Even in the port town where this exists, one of only six district towns, the Fire Service grew out of a "Volunteer Fireman" situation. Today, with political rhetoric, and the sorry litany of bumbling excuses, finger pointing from one ministry to another, for attachment of blame every time a fire destroys a section of this old port town, this local town fire service could hardly be called "National". It is not existing anywhere else in the country of Belize, nor could it in reality be called a Belize City Town Fire Service, for the city neither pay for it, or control it. This localized port town service is staffed by a rotating group of six driver- mechanics for the engine. They receive an extra $6 Bz, or $3 USA to sleep in the station for the night. They are not really trained to fight fires. They are trained to drive and hook up the hoses and turn on the pump. Anybody else involved is a volunteer off the streets.

Fire fighting needs detailed experience and training. These drivers do not even know enough to cut off the oxygen supply. In a recent fire in the old wooden port town, there was no Fire Captain with training to direct the crowd of volunteers, just a bunch of well meaning volunteer citizens. The loudest shouter, being the boss. Policemen and citizen volunteers arguing which strategy is best, while other citizens form bucket brigades to fight fires in old wooden buildings that go up like a resin soaked torch.

In reality, this situation with the "National" Fire Service is so much like other political endeavors in the nation of Belize. There is no fire engine in Crique Sarco, Mango Creek, Independence, Caye Caulker, Xaibe or any of the 500 communities that comprise the nation of Belize in the six different districts. Just like the political rhetoric bragging on about the National Fire Service; nor does there exist offices for government services to provide drivers licenses, auto tags, passports, or any other national government services in the 500 communities of the nation of Belize. All of Belize government is a joke! A pure sham of a pyramid of self serving corruption, greed and self enrichment, perpetuated by a hierarcheal pyramid structure, fostered by political parties originating from the old port town in a network clique of connected intellectuals, intent on raping the economy of Belize and the other five districts that produce the means to tax, to pay off their borrowing of foreign loans used to better their expensive life styles. NATIONAL FIRE SERVICE! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! What a cruel joke for the other five districts of Belize. The other five hundred communities of the nation of Belize know what it is like to be exploited and raped by a gang of intellectual thieves from the old colonial capital.

 Why for 20 years past, the political parties have known that good government comes with power sharing, checks and balances and some sort of geographical equal representation at the national level and population representation at the district level. Yet the intellectuals in the old port town have consistantly denied all efforts to bring a rational governing system of consensus to the nation of Belize. They would lose the keys to the treasury this way. Not only have these intellectuals running the political parties been aware ( they are intellectual and smart after all), but every effort has been made these past 11 to 12 years by both the PUP and the UDP who have held power, to fight a rear guard action DENYING THE POLITICAL REFORMATION that would make Belize a better developed country and self sufficient. All in their own selfish-self interest. Poor Belize! A country where telecommunications, telephones, internet service have been sacrificed to the greed of a bunch of port town, old colonial capital intellectuals over the past 11 years, all in the name of greed and power. Richard Hulse points out in his article, laying the blame squarely on the same causes that have hindered Belize Development in general. Squarely on the planned, orchestrated incompetence by administration by intellectuals, for personal gain, over national consensus and governing systems for Belizean Development.

I found your article rather interesting from your perspective. I have been working with the Belize National Fire Service for about four years now, assisting them with their recognized Certification Training, which they have been working towards for years now. We have been offering Belize training through an accredited training facility here in Canada at no charge to them. I am doing this because I care about the fire service and I can offer this service and feel good about myself and it allow me to expand my base knowledge.

Some of the things you might not know is that Chief Henry Baizar has been sending his Officers to receive specialized training in England, Japan, the USA and Canada all of which gives them International recognition with the National Fire Protection Association based out of the USA. This regulatory agency gives training and guidance to all the USA, Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand. To meet this standard is the best you can do for your Country.

I have worked in many areas of the Fire Service and what I see Belize doing is far superior to the rest of Central America and many more countries around the world. I understand areas of Belize are not covered with fire protection but that is not unlike other Countries, ours included.

Basing the Fire Service on the tax basis is very difficult because you can only provide what you can adequately pay for. I agree with you that Volunteers are the backbone to any fire service and they make up the majority of the fire service world. These people that volunteer their services we all look up to and appreciate no matter which walk of life they come from. Without them many communities around the world would have no fire protection.

I have been to most of the fire halls in Belize and I understand the Government and Chief Baizar would like to build more. This is keeping with progress and within budget restraints that every fire department is saddled with.

I always believe that people should have their points of view and be free to speak them, but on the other hand, I more strongly believe we should always speak highly of our Country and promote it positively at every opportunity. Belize is a prospering country that needs good leaders, ones with vision. I believe they have good strong leadership at the Fire Hall.

As leaders we always get criticism from all walks of life. I have learn over my career that out of 100, 5 people love you, 10 really like you, 5 hate you, 10 dislike you and the other 70 just simply don't care or can't be bothered. We as responsible people need to see what the 70 think and believe. We spend far to much time on the negative, if we spent as much time on the positive we would all be far more happier. I accept the fact that you have a strong opinion, I hope I can assist you in some way to change that view.

When I have been training in Belize, I have met some very competent officers and firefighters, both career and volunteer. Yes, no department in the world is perfect. Belize has a very strong base to continue to build on and a good leader in Fire Chief Henry Baizar. From this I have great expectations of their fire service. The Officers like, Michael Middleton, Ben Matura, Bryan Fisher, Ernest Domingez, Deputy Chief Smith to name a few, along with all the outer station officers in Orange Walk, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, and San Pedro.

I truly hope you can change your perspective and recognize the major strides the Belize National Fire Service has taken to improve things for Belize. It may not be perfect, but they have a good goal, an attainable goal and they are striving to work for it. With your help and promotion, they can do so much better. We as citizens need to get behind them and promote them, help them in any way we can. I am not even a citizen of Belize and I am doing my best to help. I love your country and the people there. They are such great hosts and they deserve better.

I will continue to work for them and help improve what I can, at no cost to Belize, this is because of the great man you have in charge of the Fire Service in Belize, Fire Chief Henry Baizar.

In closing, we can find faults in everyone and everything, that is the easy part, if we look to the good then we are doing so much better with our lives. Respectfully submitted.

Rich Finley

Richard J. Finley, Fire Chief
View Royal Fire Rescue Department
280 Island Highway, Victoria, BC V9B 1G5

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