Any attempt to include swimming in basic training for fire officers will be supported by the Fire Service Association, according to the association’s president Leo Ramkissoon.
The assertion comes after fire officer Stephen Marcano drowned while off duty at a Guayaguayare beach last Sunday.
The 39-year-old, who could not swim, was attempting to save a group of people, including his niece, who was struggling.
“Of course, we would support training. I am an active fire officer myself and occasionally we may encounter situations involving rescuing persons in large bodies of water – like rivers – and also during flooding,” Ramkissoon said.
Currently, only specialised fire officers, such as members of the Marine Firefighting Unit and the Land Search and Rescue Unit receive swimming training.
It is not included in basic training.
However, Ramkissoon believes all members should be taught how to swim.
“Having that competence in handling the marine type of training would be very beneficial to our function as fire officers – wide-ranging functions. As first responders, we should be prepared for any eventuality,” he added.
Acknowledging that swimming training is only offered to certain officers, acting Chief Fire Officer Marlon Smith said the service may consider offering it across the board.
“When I was in training, swimming was part of my training. It all depends on location and things like that, you know. Within recent time, it hasn’t been part of our training, but it’s something we could consider,” he said.
Marcano joined the service in 2009 and was assigned to the Savonetta Fire Station in the Central Division.
His family went to Mayaro to celebrate his wife’s 31st birthday.
In July 2020, another fire officer, Chester Richardson, drowned in Mayaro.
Like Marcano, Richardson was a married father of two.
Offering condolences to the relatives and colleagues of Marcano, Ramkissoon said the officer should be recognised posthumously for his heroism.
On Monday, a day after Marcano drowned, 24-year-old Shivanie Ramkarran drowned in Guayaguayare.