The Governor’s Harbour Fire Rescue (GHFR) organization is moving forward with plans to rebuild life-saving fire rescue services within the immediate area – to service both Governor’s Harbour and James’ Cistern. The group came together in the past year to plan and organize fundraising efforts to purchase fire truck equipment, to build a fire station within the township, purchase uniforms, as well as training for volunteer fire fighters and maintenance and upkeep of purchased fire truck/s and the fire station.
By February of 2022, the group, led by Chief Fireman and President Ricardo Pinder, Vice President Bob Colman and Secretary Arthur Turnquest, had already raised thousands towards the purchase of a fire engine appliance, and since then have continued efforts towards the goal of raising another $200,000 to build a fire house, and the requisite maintenance and upkeep. Martin Weber, a winter resident, heads up the fundraising efforts, along with Ricardo Pinder and Bob Colman in support.
On Friday, August 5th, 2022, GHFR welcomed two representatives of the Canadian non-profit organization ‘Firefighters Without Borders’ (FWB) to Eleuthera – Director of Training and Accreditation John Pannunzio, and Director of Projects Amber Rushton – specializing in hazardous material response, emergency response planning, management and preparedness, and community risk assessment.
The purpose of the three-day Eleuthera visit said John Pannunzio, was to assist with training, and to get to know more about the area the GHFR would be servicing, so they could better assess needs going forward, and provide advice and assistance tailored to the unique circumstances of the local organization. “We got reached out to by the fire service committee here who were looking at building the fire service in Governor’s Harbour. FWB is a non-profit organization based in Canada, and we essentially work to sustain equipment and training for, not only Canadians, but for services abroad as well. GHFR reached out looking for equipment… so, we formed a partnership about a year ago, and have been speaking and meeting virtually since then. We have seven pallets of equipment now on the way, which will further equip GHFR’s fire truck that recently arrived on island, with the tools, equipment and personal protective gear required. This will allow the firefighters to safely mitigate a variety of different calls, not just firefighting, but also vehicle extrication and a few other disciplines.”
The partnership he emphasized, would be one that continued, and not just a one-time visit. “It’s going to be a five-year phased in approach, where we can build on incremental steps, take bite-size pieces and work on developing the skills of the fire service and ensure that they can maintain the trucks, the equipment and everything else.
“We have a network within North America for training and equipment leads that help us sustain these projects… A lot of the equipment in North America has a ‘ten-year lifespan’, and after ten years is deemed as no-good, but this equipment is in perfect shape, and for areas that don’t have any equipment at all, or trying to build a department, it’s still very useful – and we want to make sure that they can use that.”
Amber Rushton, on her reasons for being a part of FWB, added, “I got involved with FWB because I have skillsets in fire suppression, and fire and life-safety education, and I wanted the opportunity to give back to the broader fire service communities – so this is a great way to volunteer. It has been wonderful to partner with communities like Governor’s Harbour, and to equip them with the means to be successful… We currently have six projects on the go right now, wide spread across the globe. It’s very busy, but it’s rewarding work.”
On Sunday afternoon, August 7th, as the visitors wrapped up their time with the GHFR volunteers, a community demonstration event was hosted at 3pm near the Fishermen’s Dock in Governor’s Harbour. The local fire crew, along with the FWB representatives, demonstrated the putting out of a sizeable fire, an extraction team also removed a car door from a vehicle using spreaders and a ‘jaw of life’, and for the sake of the community audience – crews also showed onlookers how to use a fire extinguisher to put out an oil fire [that might occur in one’s kitchen], and discussed other ways to neutralize the fire, without water.
Local Fire Chief, Ricardo Pinder, informed that the 1,000-gallon capacity fire engine for GHFR, as a result of the group’s fundraising efforts to-date, arrived in Eleuthera in mid-July. “We thank everyone in the community for all of their efforts and the donations received,” he expressed on Sunday afternoon.
Further commenting on the weekend visit, he added, “Firefighters Without Borders, they came down from Canada, and did some training with us. We knew a little bit already, but those guys are professionals and they did a marvelous job… Right now, we have a local team of eleven volunteer firefighters. But we are encouraging anyone else who wants to join, to join – ladies as well, because when there is a fire, sometimes only one or two may be available. So, we can use all volunteers.”
The Men of Faith, who run a fire rescue service based in Palmetto Point, were also visible on Sunday, with one of their fire engines joining the GHFR demonstration. Mr. Pinder commented, “We work together with the Men of Faith. They have provided training, as well as the use of their equipment. For example, today we used their ‘jaws of life’ in the demonstration, because we are still awaiting the arrival of ours. So, we work together, and we will continue that. If they go to a fire, we will go to that fire – and if we go to a fire, they will also go to that fire. We will work together.