Dominica Fire Service refutes criticism of its response to Newtown fire

The smouldering building on Victoria Street. Two firemen are standing in the foreground

Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Letang, has responded to criticism about the tardiness of the Fire Service’s response to a fire which occurred at  Newtown on Sunday.

Reginald Burke, the owner of a dwelling house which was destroyed by the fire, expressed disappointment during an interview,  about the length of time (about an hour, according to him) it took firefighters to get to the scene.

However, in response, Letang said that the fire service responded as soon as possible and arrived at the scene at approximately twenty minutes after receiving the first call which, according to him, is a reasonable amount of time.

He said the department’s only two fire trucks were already attending to a bush fire at a landfill in the vicinity of Roseau when the incident was reported.

He also noted that when the department received the first call from Newtown, it was reported as a bush fire but ten minutes later, another call came in revealing that some vehicles, as well as Burke’s property, were in flames.

“When we got the call, they were actually at another fire and we proceeded to have one person go to that fire, the one at Victoria Street,” Letang stated. “I wouldn’t say that we got there late because when the first call came at 2:30pm and we left the fire scene where we were, the first truck arrived at Victoria street just about 2:50pm,”

He continued, “The challenges that we have within this time is that we have a lot of bush fires so basically on a normal day within the last two weeks to a month you would pass at the Roseau fire station and you would hardly see the trucks there so yesterday was a typical example.”

Letang also addressed what he said is the bigger problem at hand -the burning of debris on the island- which he said is what caused the fire in Newtown.

It was reported that the bush fire started at a nearby beach. It then spread and destroyed eleven vehicles and Burke’s property which housed an auto mechanic workshop.

The Deputy Fire Chief said this is a situation the department faces constantly and asked people not to set unnecessary fires as it poses a strain on their resources.

“That was one of the good examples that fire spread quickly. We do not know exactly what time it started but from the time we were notified the fire was already on the property, so it’s a lesson to be learnt from that but we are still investigating,” he noted.

Letang expressed heartfelt sympathy on behalf of the Fire Service to Reginald Burke for his loss. He made it clear that the department holds no grudge regarding the accusations made and vowed to continue to work with him, moving forward.

“Persons who have lost property will always be a difficult thing for them and it can be a shock, so, it’s a matter of consoling them,” Letang remarked. “Generally, that would be the expression of persons who have lost and that’s why we give all our heart to that person and we would not want that to have happened.”

The property owner, his son and another individual standing beside a burnt vehicle at the site of the fire

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  1. Sylvester Cadette
    May 13, 2020

    This is so sad and my heart felt sympathy to Mr. Burke. In these times, for us who have not experienced it ourselves we cannot full comprehend what the family is going through but we can share our sympathy.

    I feel also for the Fire Service. It seem to have been a trying day for them and they may well have tried their best given the circumstance.

    What shocked me was that the Fire Service in Roseau has ONLY TWO TRUCKS & UNDOUBTEDLY LIMITED FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT.

    But I remember we waste a lot of money on foolishness – like entertainment with POPCAAN and others; wastage on nonsensical campaigns; useless conventions that did not sway voters because most knew long before who they were going to vote for. So the ruling party wasted millions of Dollars.

    Next election, instead of this worthless wastage that we witnessed in December 2019, please spend the campaign money on needs of communities – the people will love you for it.

  2. D/can to d bone
    May 13, 2020

    So wayne leatang is lying blantantly. If you look at one video it show the two firemen getting dressed. If they were already attending to a fire at stockfarm then why werent they already in their suits..well well well.

  3. SMH
    May 13, 2020

    Why hate on the fire fighters? I know its sad and a great lost for the family.But we have to realize they worked with the little materials that they have. When I look at the condition of just the fire brigade building, that sucks.

  4. May 13, 2020

    Another reason to bash the government. Thanks God that there were no injuries or loss of life, that would be a different story. I sympathise with Burke, if he was properly insured he should have no worries. If however he was not insured he must reserve the harshest criticism for himself.

  5. Ibo France
    May 13, 2020

    I think the fire fighters did reasonably well. Seems as though there was a miscommunication at first. Mr. Letang stated that the first call he received about that particular fire was misconstrued as a bush fire. We should put the blame where it most certainly belongs. The Fire & Ambulance Department; the Police Force; the Health System; the Education Ministry; the Justice Department; the Post Office and every other government entity are seriously under resourced. Every public entity is grossly dysfunctional due to wanton corruption and gross ineptitude. A change of government is urgently needed. Unfortunately, a completely corrupt electoral system and an overwhelming influx of oversea voters has given Dominicans another five (5)years of unbearable hardship, misery and suffering. This nakedly corrupt government wins election while the country and 99% of the population retrogress. If I have to die for something, let it be the truth.

  6. Mystik Jones
    May 13, 2020

    It wasn’t a government official’s property; u would see how fast they would have come.. A wicked government and a nasty system. Doh worry Burke allu go rise up again. Jah Is on allu side. Letang trying damage control but everyone knows the truth; they lapse big time. At least some vehicles, tools and equipments could have been saved had they done their job and respond in a timely manner. They are just like the police force. Yet again, they are the government’s arm; worthless.

  7. Kermit
    May 13, 2020

    But the real owner of the house is the person you guys are regarding as the other individual smh

    • The Truth Be Told
      May 13, 2020

      kermit read again – The property owner, his son and another individual. Are there not three persons? Kermit u must read three or four times and understand before u comment. You might see the wrong thing first time. People read to understand. Read everything and not just some thing. You might miss out on something important when u leave out pragagraph, sentence, words etc.

  8. Badbaje
    May 13, 2020

    From the response given by the Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Wayne Letang, I would think there is an immediate need for additional fire trucks and fire fighting equipment. It looks like they are doing the best they can with what they have, and if they should be expected to do more, then they should have more to do it with.
    Please look into getting more trucks and more equipment, not only for the Roseau area but for all the fire stations across the island. And maybe we need to add fully manned and equipped fire stations to some areas that may not have any.
    Also, if we are to stop burning debris then we need a way of disposing of such debris, like more garbage pickup and disposal services. It is ok to ask people to stop burning debris, but we have to give them options.
    let us work together to find and provide solutions, let us consider the pass, but look toward making a better future, once we have identified problems. Just a few thoughts.

  9. Iamanidiot
    May 13, 2020

    The department’s ONLY …ONLY TWO trucks were attending to another fire.
    A big place like Roseau, have only two trucks from since I know myself. What if a fire happened in Bath Estate?
    I’m assuming that a truck is around a million dollars, but for the money we bring down Popcaan and Buju and the others, that money could have put together and buy a truck eh. But go get your kool out and sewo my people. The firemen did take ages to get there, the house was in flames and no trucks wasnt there yet. I guess you feel bad but it’s the truth. It wasn’t the firemen’s fault they don’t have tools to do their jobs but it is a fact it took them a long while to get there.

    Also…To me I can remember Blackmore promising to fix up the fire station and get equipment was that an election promise?

  10. Bwa-Banday
    May 13, 2020

    Mr. Letang, STOP being so defensive and take the criticism as an opportunity to make the necessary reforms. We in the country are not death, dumb and blind as many of the politicians would like us to believe. Sir, you and I know the fire service is doing its best but you are under funded, lack proper and sufficient equipment, lack a LOT of training in keeping with your regional partners so STOP it.

    For now at least, put your tail in your behind, accept that you did your best but it was NOT good enough and re-strategize for the good of the DFS and the nation. Tell the government you need (not want) more and better equipment that fits current needs. While you at it, take a cue from Matt Peltier’s famous saying; ” Its better to keep your mouth shut (stay moomoo) than open it and remove all doubt!”. You don’t want to start sounding like the clueless, incompetent police PRO.

  11. Batibou River
    May 13, 2020

    Letang stated: we responded as soon as possible. Unless the entire Roseau Fire Service branch was involved in a different incident, this answer is totally unacceptable. The answer should have been IMMEDIATELY! The problem in DA is that all these guys at the top of public services were hand selected by the PM and as such can be regarded as his best friends. That makes these people unaccountable and untouchable to the general public and that is why we have to put up with answers like that. These answers in essence are exactly what we get from the dictator himself, day in day out, no accountability just lies, spin and propaganda.

    • The Truth Be Told
      May 13, 2020

      Batibou River… you are always ridiculous. Immediately. Batibou come immediately to me. Batibou I want to see you immediately. Batibou be in Roseau immediately. Batibou live Carib territory and arrive in Roseau immediately. Batibou why stress yourself over everything as you always do? You always looking to link everything with politics. Why? Why? Carib Batibou? Being objective I would safely Batibou report as soon as possible to me in Roseau, Grandbay or whereever. Batibou emancipate yourself from mental slavery. Batibou you are only hurting Batibou and none of those you are obseesed with politically. Batibou stop stress. Be careful. Be safe. Be at peace with yourself. Love Batibou. Take a river bath to cool you.

      • Batibou River
        May 14, 2020

        Mental slavery. It’s the likes of YOU and your DLP supporters that still live in mental slavery. Why do you follow, why do you worship a man that clearly misappropriates the state funds, that lies to the citizens day in day out, that works all day to ensure that every step of his is shrouded in mystery and in doing so has no time to actually do all the things he is being paid for. You support a person that is utterly useless and bend. So now do tell me, who is the slave… mentally and physically? I pity you because you clearly haven’t got a mind of your own anymore. You useless, corrupt little person!!!

  12. Unamalousy
    May 13, 2020

    Instead of sending for popcaan why not buy the firemen more trucks and ambulances instead of going for police vehicles to carry people like animals get more fire trucks buy and build necessary things man chupss

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