Prior to September 1974, the St. Lucia Fire Service was under the administration of the Commissioner of Police and regular Police Officers were assigned to perform fire fighting duties. The need for a divorce from the police force became apparent as a result of rapid economic growth, and the frequency and extent of fires which had to be handled by police officers at that time. On September 14th, 1974, the Fire Service was established and became a separate entity from the police force by an act of parliament. This act was later renamed and is presently entitled the Fire Service act of 1973. Mr. John McPherson, a Guyanese national, became the first Chief Fire Officer under this act.
Before the establishment of the service as a full and separate department, St. Lucia had witnessed three major fires. Two fires ravaged the city of Castries, one occurring in 1945 and the other in 1948, the latter destroying reconstruction efforts which were undertaken after the ruins of 1945. Nine years later, in the year 1957, the country was again hit by another deadly and vicious fire, this time in the town of Soufriere, which left the town in total shambles.
The Fire Service consisted of eighty-five (85) persons when it was established in 1974. These personnel were stationed in Castries, Dennery, Vieux-Fort and Soufriere. Due to inadequate manpower, the auxiliary corps was organized as a volunteer group. The first group of volunteer fire fighters was established in the district of Dennery in 1972. The following year, another group was organized in Soufriere, each group comprising of twelve persons.
In 1976, as a result of increasing demand for ambulance service and the inability of hospitals to handle all calls, the fire service was entrusted with the additional responsibility of providing ambulance services to the public. Presently, the Fire Service handles 90% of ambulance responses and attendants are trained to EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) level.
The St. Lucia Fire Service held its initial recruitment course in 1976 consisting of thirty (30) recruits. This course was under the supervision of Mr. Copland from Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service and who also served as Deputy Chief Fire Officer.
The SLFS organizational chart includes Firefighter,
Leading Firefighter, Subordinate Officer, Station Officer, Assistant Divisional Officer, Divisional Officer, Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Chief Fire Officer at its apex. We have come a long way from inception. To date in 2022, we have advanced to providing a variety of services to the citizens of St. Lucia. These services include fire suppression, search and rescue, extrication, hazardous material responses, aerodrome firefighting, swift water rescue, emergency medical services, emergency dispatch, fire prevention, fire inspection, and disaster preparedness services.
SLFS is comprised of nine fire stations on island, including an aerodrome fire station at both airports. Four departments exist in the service. “A” Division otherwise known as administration. B Division is responsible for operational activities in the north of the island, Dennery to Anse La Raye to Gros Islet. C Division has influence over operational activities in the south of the island,
Micoud through Vieux Fort to Canaries. D Division caters to fire prevention activities.