Abaco Crash Fire & Rescue, headed by Chief Colin Albury in Treasure Cay, hosted a Handover Ceremony at their fire station on August 24. The department donated a fire truck along with fire equipment to the newly formed North Abaco Volunteer Fire Department. The new department will handle emergencies from Black Wood to Crown Haven. Treasure Cay also commissioned a new truck that day, as well.
Special guests included high ranking national officials including: Bahamas Commissioner of Police – Ellison Greenslade, Assistant Commissioner – Emrick Seymour, Walter Evans – Director of Fire Services, Noel Curry – Abaco Superintendent of Police, and Wilson Delancy – Inspector & Officer in Charge of North Abaco.
Also present were: Neil Campbell – North Abaco Administrator, Gary Smith – North Abaco Chief Councilor, Ejnar Cornish – North Abaco Deputy Chief Councilor, and other council members and guests.
As guests started gathering inside the fire station, an emergency call came through about a fire in Leisure Lee. Fire Chief Colin Albury, who was also set to be moderator of the event, along with several volunteers raced out, in the fire trucks which were on display, to handle the situation.
During this time Commissioner Ellison Greenslade arrived and took the time to address the crowd which had taken their seats. He remarked about the beauty of the Abaco islands, the power of community and the necessary sacrifices that keep the country safe. He encouraged everyone to recognize their individual responsibilities of knowing their neighbours and bringing up the youth.
When Chief Albury returned he thanked everyone for their patience and recognized the special guests. This was followed by a prayer, led by Rev. Zeldon Simmons, and the National Anthem.
Remarks were brought by Neil Campbell, the North Abaco Adminstrator, along with Fire Services Director Walter Evans, Treasure Cay Emergency Services Organization Director Betsy Bracy and North Abaco Chief Councilor Gary Smith.
Chief Albury said during his remarks, “As we gather today to dedicate this equipment and commission these vehicles to service, let us not forget the real dedication, that is the commitment of each and every volunteer that rises out of his or her bed at 2 o’clock in the morning to go fight a fire.”
He mentioned the pressures of volunteering in small island communities, namely the inevitable horror of coming face to face with tragedy that involves a loved one. With this in mind, he further commended the volunteers.
He continued, “Mr. Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Director of Fire Services, Superintendent Curry, Inspector Delancy – your presence here today speaks volumes and means a great deal to the volunteers.” Chief Colin also recognized longtime advocate for Abaco’s firefighters: Sgt. Paul Johnson.
That day, in fact, two fire trucks were donated. One truck was donated to the new North Abaco Volunteer Department from Treasure Cay, and the second to Abaco Crash Fire & Rescue in Treasure Cay. Firefighting equipment was also donated to Abaco Crash Fire & Rescue with their intention to give some to North Abaco’s Brigade and to a volunteer department in Andros as well.
Those donations were made possible by the Largo Florida Fire Department and their chief Mixson Doug Hiatt. Mr. Hiatt drove across the state of Florida to deliver the equipment to the Port of Palm Beach free of charge.
Included in the donated equipment were firefighting suits, boots, helmets, an exhaust fan, hoses and more.
Commissioner Greenslade took to the podium to officially commission the new fire trucks. He recognized everyone in attendance and thanked all the volunteers for their service. He went on to plead with the public to encourage young men and women to recruit themselves to emergency services, “I’m begging family islands to give their children.”
He said persons interested in training could, “spend six months in training, and I’m prepared when he or she is done to send them back home where they can specialize.” He said that there is no reason why family island communities cannot have their own fire chiefs from “their own home.”
Commissioner Greenslade continued, “If you’re an honest young Bahamian, willing to make a contribution in your community, why not join the Bahamas police force? Why not join Mr. Evans’ team in fire services?” The Commissioner gave out his number to the public for those interested in his appeal: 376-2080.
Regarding the importance of volunteer projects like Abaco Crash Fire & Rescue in Treasure Cay and the new North Abaco Fire Department, he said, “As much as we support you, we do not always have to be in charge. That is why volunteerism is so good.” He said this empowers the community.
Fire chiefs and volunteers from nearby fire departments were present at the ceremony as well. Green Turtle Cay, North Abaco, Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour were all represented.
After the official ceremony the Commissioner and Fire Chief were taken by Abaco Crash Fire & Rescue Chief Colin Albury to inspect the two vehicles. Impressed, Mr. Greenslade climbed inside each one to test the sirens.
After the inspection, Chief Albury took Commissioner Greenslade and company on a tour of the fire station.
The Commissioner remarked at how well organized the command center was and again thanked Chief Albury and his volunteers for the work they do. Chief Albury pledged the use of the station’s command center for use by the Royal Bahamas Police Force any time they needed it.
Following the tour a lunch was served to all the attendees. Grilled crawfish, steak and chicken along with sides and desserts were enjoyed by the crowd.
Going forward, the new North Abaco Volunteer Fire Department will work closely with the department in Treasure Cay. Training with equipment and procedures will be necessary. Both stations are always looking for volunteers and donations. Chief Albury pleaded with all the attendees to please support their local volunteer fire and emergency departments, whether they are in marsh Harbour, Hope Town, Green Turtle or wherever.