Sept. 28, 2005 – Virgin Islands Fire Services will host a conference bringing together fire chiefs and rescue agencies from more than eleven Caribbean countries Oct. 4 to Oct. 9, according to Fire Services director Merwin C. Potter.
The biannual conference of the Caribbean Association of Chief Deputy and Assistant Fire Chief Officers (CACDACFO) will be held at the Divi Carina Bay Resort and Hotel on St. Croix. It is the first time this gathering will be held on American soil.
This year's theme is "One Caribbean, One Fire Service, One Mission."
Countries and territories participating in the conference include the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Anguilla, St. Lucia, Guyana, St. Eustatius, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Bermuda. Fifty delegates have confirmed their attendance at the conference. Exhibitors and speakers from the United States will also participate.
Potter said the conference will "raise the level of awareness of fire services in the community." The fire professionals will share information on fire suppression, homeland security and terrorism, including weapons of mass destruction.
St. Croix Rescue Chief Gregory Richards, who initiated the arrangements to host the conference on St. Croix, said at a press conference Tuesday at the Richmond Fire Station that the Virgin Islands has taken the lead on homeland security in the region, and its officials are ready to pass on the experience and training to their Caribbean neighbors.
Richards oversees the St. Croix Rescue Academy, which offers training in search and rescue and emergency medical care and techniques, based on U.S. and international standards and procedures.
"We are extremely proud to be the host of this conference," St. Croix Fire Chief Ovaldo Graham said. "A conference of this magnitude is of great significance," he said, adding that the event will enhance the tourism product of St. Croix. "I expect the delegates will return to St. Croix to vacation."
Other territorial emergency response agencies will participate in the conference, including the Virgin Islands Police Department, Emergency Medical Services, Virgin Islands Port Authority and the Hovensa oil refinery.
Some of the delegates will travel with their spouses and family. The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism will host shopping excursions and tours for the visitors, according to assistant commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge.
The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, along with VI Fire Service and St. Croix Rescue are sponsoring the conference
CACDACFO was founded in 2001 and is comprised of Caribbean Fire Service administrators, chiefs, and fire officers. Its primary objective is to reduce the loss of life, personal injury, damage to property and the environment by improving the quality of firefighting, rescue, fire protection and fire prevention. The Virgin Islands joined the association in 2002.
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