Fire chief breaks silence on firefighters’ strike

Dupuis said he was concerned the telephones were not being answered
Dupuis said he was concerned the telephones were not being answered

For the first time since protest action was taken at the Portsmouth Fire Station and the subsequent sudden transfer of firefighters, Fire Chief Josiah Dupuis has spoken publicly on the matter.

At a press conference on Thursday Dupuis said during that strike he was concerned that no one was answering the telephones and no emergency coverage was being provided for the district.

In early August the firefighters decided to sleep outside the station because of what they said were inhumane conditions and rat infestation there. The action continued for days and the protesting officers were subsequently transferred to other parts of the island.

For weeks Dupuis remained mum on the matter but on Thursday, he sought to give his version of the events that led to the transfers.

“On May 21, 2014 the Dominica Public Service Union (the union representing the firefighters) and the PS of National Security held a meeting to discuss working conditions and other matters regarding officers and an agreement was arrived at on several points including moving fire officers’ stations at Grand Bay and Portsmouth to rented buildings by July, 2014 or earlier if possible,” he said.

Firemen protesting at the Portsmouth Fire Station
Firemen protesting at the Portsmouth Fire Station

He explained further that a proposal was submitted to Cabinet for consideration which was approved, however, due to an “administrative error,” the decision regarding Portsmouth was deferred.

Dupuis explained further that efforts were immediately taken to correct the error, however, there was a change of Permanent Secretary (PS).

He said the PS spoke to the Union to brief it on the reasons for the delay in securing the building identified for relocation at Portsmouth and head of the DPSU, Thomas Letang, seemed then to have understood the reasons.

“On August 1, the Deputy Fire Chief decided to visit Portsmouth Fire Station and on his arrival he reported that the men had adopted a protest posture by vacating the station building,” Dupuis said.

He said once that information was relayed to him, he immediately directed officers from the Fire Brigade in Roseau to report to Portsmouth for duty.

“My concern was that since the telephone lines were not being answered by the officers at that station, the Fire and Ambulance Services Division was in effect not providing emergency coverage for the district as it is mandated to so do,” he stated.

He pointed out that he was concerned because 99.9 percent of the Fire Services’ responses are based on telephone calls. “It’s really quite a travesty to have fire officers at a station but not prepared to answer the telephone,” Dupuis stated.

Dupuis said the Portsmouth Resource Center was identified as a building for temporally relocation of the officers, however, they refused instructions to maintain a “sentry at the Portsmouth Fire Station in order to answer emergency lines”.

He said because of that, on August 11, an emergency transfer list was circulated.

The transfers were to take immediate effect.

However, the DPSU has described the immediate transfers as ‘victimization’ and said is preparing to take legal action against government.

Letang said the officers were transferred to ridiculous locations, which take them far away from their homes.

He said the Union is currently awaiting a response from its lawyers on how to proceed.

Letang said the DPSU is confident that it can put forward a strong case.

At the press conference Dupuis did not address the DPSU’s position.



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    September 7, 2014


    September 6, 2014

    :?: Why does it always has to boil down to such situation like this,i mean going on strike or protest?It seems like every institution in this island is lacking in one way or the other.There should always be a maintenance plan and crew for every government’s building and institution.It should not get to and at it’s worse before being taken care of,this present illegal and thug government has gotten this island at it’s worse. :?:

  3. dog
    September 6, 2014

    the build was a health center and was rejected. it was used as a hospital and was rejected and both were replaced. the firemen were placed there over 20 years now with the view that things were to be made better however it was not. the matter was reported to the chief for over 3 years. the environmental officers have inspected the building and recommended that it is not suitable for use. the firemen responded to all calls during the action .

  4. Shane Felix
    September 6, 2014

    Firefighters in Dominica are on strike, Firefighters in Saint Lucia are on strike, Firefighters in Trinidad and Tobago are protesting in front of Government building. All three islands issues has something to do with the Chief. I find it interesting that a story of the Dominican Chief breaking his silence on strike action in Dominica comes out the same time the story of the St. Lucian Chief breaks his silence on strike action in St. Lucia. Does someone have a link to the Trinidad Chief breaking some kinda silence on the protest of firefighters in T&T? What is going on in the region? Why are firefighters being meted with such cruel treatment? Will the St. Lucian and Trinidad Chiefs be doing some transfers of their own? I call on the Caribbean Association of Fire Fighters (CAFF) to make a statement on this matter of firefighters being exposed to abuse of authority by their superiors. Hang in there comrades. Stand with each other. That is the only way your strength will be seen.

  5. A Doubting Thomas
    September 5, 2014

    So did the Fire Chief speak to the DPSU Secretary on August 1 and did he forget, (that is the) DPSU Secretary to inform the members of the conversation he found to be reasonable and to call off any work stoppage?

    Another observation from our posters how we do the switcheroo when it suits us.

    This one should stand by his officers, this one should not stand by his officers.

  6. Anonymous
    September 5, 2014

    A chain is as strong as its weakest link and the fire officers have every reason and civic right to protest about poor working conditions …. BUT their mistake was to not answer telephone calls because 99.9% of the Fire Services’ responses are based on telephone calls!!! So when you scratch yourself the powers that be will turn it into a deep wound.

  7. JoJo
    September 5, 2014

    Come on mr. Dupuis. You seriously mean to tell us because firefighters in Portsmouth don’t answer the phone puts the nation in peril? Don’t we have a national 999 number? Are you telling us that that number does not work for Portsmouth? Plus, there are more mobile phones in Dominica than inhabitants, including the police. That is a lame excuse and a red herring. If there were a fire in Portsmouth or environments, believe me, your crew there would get the message and deal with the incident promptly, even if they are not sleeping in the station.

  8. grell
    September 5, 2014

    Only in the corrupt country of dominica.

  9. Borne
    September 5, 2014

    The chief should spend a few days in Portsmouth fire station himself.

  10. Deborah Peters
    September 5, 2014

    those firemen have been complaining for a very, very long time. it was time they did something. Blame it on the rain!

  11. September 5, 2014

    Dupuis is like UWP in sound but Neo DLP in action lol!

    • September 5, 2014

      Dupuis is being politically correct. Andboy does being politically correct in DA bring great benefits to the humble servant in the end?
      Look at Charlo from CSA sec 70’s – Minister, Ambasador S -toNationa l security Minister( after providing a pad for insecruirty in 77 & 79) to currently ?President.

      • September 5, 2014

        obtaining directives.
        it just did not get added on. my bad.

    September 5, 2014

    Why do our public servants have to work in deplorable conditions Government need to step up the people are at risk of not having fire service. Dupius only now this shows you don’t care and you should be fired

  13. Concerned
    September 5, 2014

    DPSU needs to look at the situation very deep. It is much more than just the Portsmouth group. Look at the way the officers work at the airport. One day in one day out. Some come from far. People are supposed to have two days off, forget the fact that they work more than 40 hours but where s the break? The whole fire department starting from the top needs to be educated on their rights.

    • September 5, 2014

      where is Dupuis from originally?
      People with their ears to the Ground know.

      • September 5, 2014

        Are you saying he is Skerro homeboy? hence silent for too long equal obtaining prior to addressing the issue directives?

  14. Tri-State Beauty
    September 5, 2014

    Mr Dupuis I have no doubts you are a great Firefighter, but you management skills are lacking to put it mildly. You had a crisis of mammoth proportions on your hands and you dealt with it poorly, inefficiently and with utter disgust. The Firefighters had every right to reject sleeping and living in unsanitary conditions, but you proceeded with backroom threats of transfers and disciplinary actions and ONLY now feel the desire to come forward with some robotic nonsense. Maybe you should hire a PRO or someone trained in management going forward. This says a lot about your leadership style and not in any way deserving of accolades.

    • real possie
      September 5, 2014

      @ Tri State, who made it unsanitary this was a political move by all involved, you might ask why I said so well take a look at the microwave for instance, would you not clean it if that was in your house? a dirty place will only attract dirty animals, you on strike and you still using the facility ie to drink water and use the wash room please. Go ahead give the thumbs down you all read it and know what am saying is the truth but you have your agendas so this puts the kibosh on you all agendas. LOL.

      • ahwa we
        September 5, 2014

        very ignorant point of view.

      • Concerned
        September 6, 2014

        U need to know better than that maybe if u was more educated u would not speak like that grow up and make sense before u talk new sense

  15. famalay
    September 5, 2014

    de fire chief even if he want to say somtin he conot de pm will dmote him

  16. Pondera
    September 5, 2014

    My gut feeling is that Mr Dupuis was forced to concoc a story to justify the scant regard meted out to the service-men. The delay in his response tells me that he is on the side of the service-men but his hands are tied.

    All I would say is “Please Mr Dupuis, work with your conscience”

  17. police doctor
    September 5, 2014

    That is all you was concern about chief?, the telephones not being answered,

  18. CaraW
    September 5, 2014

    What do firemen do when they have rats at their homes? They sleep outside where there are no rats. Very smart move! They who leave uncovered garbage and food all around will have rats? Would it be helping the country too much if they bought their own rat poison or debush the environs of the station? Or are we seeing the actions led by someone who believes he should have been fire chief? Is that an example of leadership?

    • Anonymous
      September 5, 2014

      U sound stupid, ur hardly getting paid and ur saying they should use what little they get to fix the government building while the government have money giving away to people like u who jus waiting for handouts. And Dupuis jus lying his ass off no fireman sat there and didn’t answer the phone.

    September 5, 2014

    Dupuis, you must understand that Skerro’s Labar Party days are closing in.
    Do unto others as you would like them do unto you.

  20. Looking in
    September 5, 2014

    Really Dupuis, really? Is that the best you could come up with after this long silence? Please stop taking the fire fighters and by extension, Dominicans, for fools.

  21. John Jay
    September 4, 2014

    Stop playing POLITICS with job you said the firemen and firewomen have a right to strike and stand for what they believe in ( so why they should answer the phone it’s a strike) and you taking this hard measure . You came up through the ranks politically that’s why you did not suffer the pain this men & women endure, but every rope has an end.

  22. By Popular Demand
    September 4, 2014

    What do they do the fire Officers to me they only sit and wait on fires – when there are no fires for the year what do they do I would like to know. Onlike farmers who are on their farm day in day out and profit nothing much atthe endof the month. So what Fire officers want – I would really like to know their job descriptions, work plan on a daily basis then I can weigh the work done and the DPSU is justified.

    • Deba
      September 7, 2014

      Man u are so sweet!!! I use to wonder myself but now I Know, they do quite alot, and are the real rescue operators in times of natural disasters., Education in schools, at firms They are part of National Security, help in disaster preparedness etc. they just not getting a fair deal in their negotiations, not even their vehicles they are consulted about when it is being purchased and this is fundamental rights of their work,so you see. I believe the system does not have a proper description of their work plan, else somebody would shake already. They forget the heroic action by a little one in Pond Casse, since he got the award. Dont talk for the airport control , they are not even enough,what about checking of fIRE Hydrants islandwide, checking fire extinquishers all over by the Fire Prevention Unit a separate unit etc. Do you know by right the police should call them on checking on Motor vehicle accidents or even social unrest incidents as firsts respondends? I guess there is not enough men . but is there work lie down, do you want to vulunteer? send me your nbr, I will hook yu up. There is much more but you can visit the office in town and ask for the Chairman of the fireofficers Association and you will be amazed at what you learn. but l really like your comment. I use to think like you once but I know better now.

  23. Helas!!!
    September 4, 2014

    Officer, your answer is crap . look out for your men not stab them.

    there’s more you could have done to remedy the situation more amicable than that.

    Never forget you were once just a fire officer and not chief. With all the money going around for free , people cannot get appointed, properly housed and cared for, vacancies and additional persons cannot be filled. think and think long and hard. I think of you as a good man, keep your integrity always. bye bro.

  24. Anonymous
    September 4, 2014

    Boy politics in that Dominica eh…. Jim Jones is still alive and well

  25. Outside Looking In
    September 4, 2014

    Looks like case of Fire officers being victimized.

  26. Anonymous
    September 4, 2014

    How is the Chief ” breaking his silence?” Didn’t he speak after the incident; a speech that showed no support for his men?

  27. Anonymous
    September 4, 2014

    So it had to take the protest action to correct the “administrative error” in that swift manner? I don’t believe a word of this based on the stance the Chief took immediately following the protest action. He did not show support for his men. What goes around cones around and sometimes it does not take forever.

  28. Really?
    September 4, 2014

    I agree the guys have to protest for their rights but they cannot put the district at such risk. There must be some skeleton staff to assist those in need. Much thought should have been given to this. Well we cannot say you red or blue so I will support you on this one Chief.

  29. Kubuli Kountry
    September 4, 2014

    Oh Please! That excuse about new PS not holding any water with me at all….what happen to ‘handing over’? It haven’t got ‘handing over’ in the Public Service again?

    Once movement is made from a position, there is supposed to be some sort of handing over.

    So Dupuis wheel and come again.

  30. Anonymous
    September 4, 2014

    chief you talking toilet language

  31. reflection
    September 4, 2014

    Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you and love your neighbour as yourself

    • hmmm
      September 4, 2014

      chief doing unto others as supremo says to him to do!!

  32. September 4, 2014

    you all take transfer for a punishment its time for you all to stop don’t give up p s u the fire chief needs to apologised to the firemen.

  33. shaka zulu
    September 4, 2014

    Nice one Dupius. It did not have to take so long to make up this story. However, I will give you benefit of a doubt until we see evidence from that time to prove otherwise.

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