News Release

Caribbean Development Bank Launches Pioneering Fire Service Project in Saint Lucia

Published on
Elbert Ellis Saint Lucia's Chief Fire Officer and two other Government officials standing

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB/the Bank) launched the "Enhancing the Resilience of the Saint Lucia Fire Service" project, marking a significant milestone in bolstering community safety and emergency response capabilities across Saint Lucia. The innovative project aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Saint Lucia Fire Service (SLFS) and enhance the wellbeing and safety of citizens.

At the official launch event, Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, CDB’s Vice President, Operations (Ag.), delivered a keynote address emphasising the critical importance of this initiative. "This project is not only about investing in infrastructure but also about our commitment to protecting lives, property, the environment, and the overall wellbeing of citizens," said Turner-Jones. "Efficient emergency response and crisis management are critical to resilience-building and national development."

The project aligns with the Government of Saint Lucia's broader development objectives to maintain a safe and secure Saint Lucia, with aspirations to improve emergency response, reduce road accidents, and enhance community welfare and disaster risk reduction.

The Honourable Jeremiah Norbert, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with Responsibility for Crime Prevention and Persons with Disabilities, and Dr. Elizabeth Bailey, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Crime Prevention and Persons with Disabilities, were among the guests at the launch. The project received high praise for its potential to transform emergency response in Saint Lucia.

The initiative will address critical capacity needs within the Saint Lucia Fire Service, including the provision of modern resources and equipment, supported by an Operations Manual to enhance the efficiency of firefighters’ responses to various emergencies.  A 2023 Fire Service Fleet Assessment highlighted the urgent need for upgrades to address issues such as ageing infrastructure, deficient equipment, and inadequate training facilities.

In addition to physical upgrades, the project will enhance training programmes. The renovation and redesign of the Vieux Fort Training Facility will increase access to quality firefighting training and enable the provision of Caribbean Vocational Qualifications certified training for emergency and protective services personnel, both locally and regionally.

Mental health and psychosocial support for fire officers is another crucial component of the project. "Only motivated officers who experience good psychological and mental health will work productively and yield positive results," noted Turner-Jones.  To this end, a mental health and psychosocial support programme will be introduced to address the impacts of responding to traumatic events.

The Project also includes the development and implementation of a Gender Policy and Action Plan. This will enhance the gender-responsiveness of human resource management within the Department of Home Affairs, as indicated in Saint Lucia’s Draft National Gender Policy, and improve alignment with 21st century good human resource development practice.  

Mr. Ditney Downes, Chief Fire Officer, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, "The enhancements made possible by this initiative will significantly improve our response capabilities and overall effectiveness.  We are grateful to CDB for their support in making Saint Lucia safer and more resilient."

The project also includes the development of a Maintenance Plan, and a Sustainability Management Plan to modernise SLFS operations.  Improvements to the IT infrastructure will enable data-driven decision-making, further enhancing the sustainability of sector outcomes.

As the project moves forward, CDB will provide additional platforms for hands-on collaboration with the Project Implementation Team and other stakeholders to ensure the seamless implementation of the project, reinforcing the Bank’s commitment to building resilient communities across the Caribbean.