Impressive and entertaining.
These words aptly describe the 23rd Recruit Graduation Ceremony of the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) which was held yesterday at the Phillip Marcellin grounds in Vieux-Fort.
Forty recruits, which included 10 females, graduated at the glittering ceremony which was attended by a number of government officials including the Minister of Home Affairs, Hermangild Francis and Ag. Commissioner of Police, Milton Desir.
The recruits were trained in a number of areas, which included firefighting signs, the physics and chemistry of combustion, self-contain breathing apparatus, and vehicle rescue and extrication.
The theme of the ceremony was: “With Perseverance and Discipline… Excellence is Achieved.”
Smartly attired, and following orders from Ag Divisional Officer Claudius Evans, they marched in slow and quick time, creating quite a spectacle.
In her feature address, Sygna Matthew of the Ministry of Public Service, who described the occasion as a momentous one, said : “Today is a very special day in the history of Saint Lucia because today, 40 persons have said yes to a divine call to save the lives and property of the people of our nation no matter wealth, race, colour, religion or creed… I must say on behalf of the people who reside in Saint Lucia, thank you for answering the call to such a brave and noble vocation.”
She described the theme of the event as appropriate and the mission of the fire service as great.
However, she added: “Let me suggest to you that our heartfelt mission as officers of the state should be grounded on the principle that we are here to make Saint Lucia, not just a better place, but the best place for us to live for this generation and the next generations to come.”
She told the recruits that during their tenure in the public service they will meet many challenges, some will hit them like small pebbles and others like boulders.
“When you come face to face with your challenges, whatever it might be, remember to remain strong in spirit and do not lose focus on what you came to do,” she said.
In his address, Ag. Chief Fire Officer, Joseph Joseph, told the recruits that they were fortunate to have been selected from hundreds of applicants throughout the island and region to undergo training to become firefighters.
“Feel proud and treasure this opportunity which you have been afforded,” he said.
He said it was challenging to get the programme going, adding that they are grateful that the government had responded to their cries to address the issue of increasing shortages in the fire service due to retirement and otherwise.
“Today is a special day not only for you recruits, but also for members of the fire service in general who have long awaited this day. The manpower issue in the department is a dire one and your presence will undoubtedly make a positive difference. Firefighters at all eight stations eagerly await the new fresh air and your unconditional support in carrying out the department’s functions,” Joseph said.
He described the theme of the ceremony as fitting, adding that it contains words of wisdom which will help the recruits to remain in a successful career path as they set out on this journey into the unknown.
Joseph said firefighting is teamwork and requires a collaborative response. He added that the safety of firefighters, and in some cases their lives, lies in the hands of their colleagues.
“Firefighting is a serious responsibility that involves putting your life at risk on a daily basis…The recent blast at Cul de Sac is a reminder of how dangerous our job can be,” he said.
Recruits who performed excellently in various aspect of the course were also awarded.