Fire chiefs of the Caribbean Netherlands, the Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten met on Saba on Thursday, March 12 and Friday, March 13 to further the cooperation between the fire departments within the Kingdom.
In July 2018, the Ministers of Justice of the four countries in the Kingdom signed a cooperation agreement to exchange knowledge and experience, to offer mutual support, strengthening the quality of the fire departments, disaster management and crisis management.
The individual commanders maintain their own responsibility, while acting as a portfolio holder to carrying out the different aspects of the collaboration agreement. Since the signing of the agreement in Bonaire, the fire commanders are meeting four times a year to discuss the progress. The venue of these meetings alternates. Once per year, the fire commanders meet in the Netherlands, when the meeting is combined the annual Fire Departments Congress.
The previous meeting was in St. Maarten late November 2019. This time it was the turn of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department BKCN to host the meeting, and it was unanimously decided to gather on Saba. This was the first time that the meeting took place on Saba since the intensifying of the collaboration mid-2018.
On the first day of the meeting on Saba, the delegation had a meet and greet with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson. Discussed during the two-day meeting were, among other things, the Judicial Four-Day Consultation JVO which took place in Curaçao in January this year; the state-of-affairs regarding the different portfolios of the collaboration agreement including mutual support, mobility, safety and expertise/knowledge; the possible participation at the World Police and Fire Games in Rotterdam in July/August 2021; the Fire Department Academy. The two-day meeting also included an outside activity.
Regular meetings between the fire commanders are important, also because of the increased safety risks in the Caribbean region such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Solid preparation is essential and cooperation between the fire departments, but also with the other stakeholders, is a key element in this.
The Fire Departments within the Kingdom need each other during times of crisis or a disaster, and providing mutual assistance when this is needed is cardinal. In that sense, it is important that the Fire Departments know each other well. That is why the Fire Departments are investing in intensifying the cooperation in areas such as joint training, joint education and helping each other in cases of large incidents.
The combined staff of the Fire Departments in the Dutch Caribbean stands at 400. The Fire Departments of Aruba and Curaçao each have a staff of more than 100. St. Maarten has about 80, and the Caribbean Netherlands more than 90, divided over Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The number of BKCN employees will be increasing to 100.
Present at the meeting on Saba were: St. Maarten Commander Clive Richardson, who chaired the meeting, Disaster Coordinator and secretary of the meeting Paul Martens, Aruba Commander
Dido de Cuba, Curaçao Commander Elvin Regina, BKCN Commander Albert Gieling, Julio Every BKCN Saba Commander, Chairman of the Netherlands Fire Department Stephan Wevers and Strategic Advisor of the Netherlands Fire Department Harold Menning. The two-day meeting took place at the fire station in The Bottom.