82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 20, 2024


This is Fire Prevention Week, and St. Thomas Fire Chief Merwin Potter said, "This year is bigger than ever, despite what little funding we have."
Potter is referring to all the activities for the week, whose theme is "Fire Drills: the Great Escape." A kids' jamboree will be celebrated from 9 a.m. until noon on Friday at Lionel Roberts Stadium with the burning and dousing of a small wooden structure, fire prevention lessons, and, of course, music, food and drink.
The theme will be carried into the schools by firefighters with lectures and demonstrations throughout the week, along with radio and TV appearances, parties and open houses.
On Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. there's an open house at the Tutu Fire Station featuring fire-fighting videos and blood pressure screening. There will also be school visits on all three days.
On Wednesday at 4 p.m. fire service members will be on WVWI Radio's "Paradise Communique," followed by a 9 a.m. appearance Thursday with Sam Topp on WVWI. On Wednesday at 8 p.m., Potter and Fire Marshal Glen Francis will be on "Face-to-Face" with Addie Ottley on WTJX-TV, channel 12.
The week will wrap up at 10 a.m. Saturday with a daylong party at Magens Bay, shed No. 3, with music, a DJ, food, drink, games and fun.
Like most government agencies, the fire service is hurting financially, but Potter is enthusiastic that the week's events will raise interest in the service. Asked what was his most pressing problem, Potter said, "Manpower." Only Charlotte Amalie and Tutu, of the island's six fire stations, are now operating, and no more than 12 firefighters are on duty at a time to cover the whole island, he said.
Meantime, he has some tips for residents to make firefighters' job easier. Potter said the service responds to about 1,500 calls a year, but some of these are false alarms. "This leaves us with even fewer men to go out and fight real fires," he said.
Another problem is people burning without permits, and without notifying fire stations. "Even with permits," Potter said, "sometimes people don't think to notify us."
He expressed thanks, however, for no big storms this year. At least so far.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.