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Press Release - Service helps colleagues in hurricane-hit British Virgin Islands
Posted on 10/11/2017

During August and September this year, the British Virgin Islands were affected by a major flood, and a Category Five Hurricane (IRMA) respectively, causing massive damage to 95% of their physical infrastructure and all services, both tangible and non-tangible.

In the British Virgin Islands, all six fire & rescue service stations were damaged. The hardest hit was their two-storey Fire Headquarters. The roof was blown off by 200+ mph winds, and the contents within every section on the top floor (admin offices, kitchen/dining/lounge and dining areas, storerooms, filing rooms, conference room, secretarial pool, etc) were destroyed. Added to this, the homes and possessions of most fire officers were destroyed or lost.

Following a request to our Chief Fire Officer from the Chief Fire Officer of the British Virgin Islands for assistance with equipment, training and uniform, staff from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service and the Charity SAFE South West swung into action.

Within 10 working days of the request a consignment of redundant stock including over 40 helmets, tunics, leggings, T-shirts and polo shirts had been assembled, a place secured on the last emergency flight to the region, the kit delivered to Brize Norton and flown out.

The Chief Fire Officer for the British Virgin Island, Zebalon McLean, said: “Thank you, once again, for your support. Many officers, including myself are extremely grateful for the kit as many of our supplies have been either damaged or lost. The helmets were a God send! The hurricanes and storms cost us dearly. You could have seen the new kits in action during the recent fire at Paraquita Bay, the multiple boat fires (last night) at Nanny Cay, and the ongoing emergency calls for flood related incidents. The work continues, as we are assisting just about every agency. Emergency calls are fewer, but the clean-up will take many years.”

Our efforts to assist are continuing and we now have offers of a range of kit and equipment from eight other UK fire & rescue services, Leicestershire, Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Essex, Oxfordshire and Cornwall, including four much needed light portable pumps.

Bristol Uniforms Ltd, who supply Devon & Somerset with firefighter personal protective equipment, have been fantastic and are providing fire tunics, trousers, hoods, gloves and over 50 pairs of boots. FireBlitz Extinguisher Ltd have offered smoke alarms and SAFE South West has secured a good price for shipping a container to the British Virgin Islands and it is hoped this will leave within the next few weeks.

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