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Governor Bryan Signs Into Law Merger Between Fire Service and EMS

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Governor Albert Bryan signed into law Friday the Fire-EMS merger legislation that will combine the two agencies in an attempt to “deliver more efficient and comprehensive emergency medical services to Virgin Islanders.”

Under the new law, the Territory’s Emergency Medical Services will be a division of the Virgin Islands Fire Service, which will oversee EMS. Legislation to combine the two agencies had been put before the Senate three times previously before Governor Bryan sent down his proposal.

Governor Bryan Signs Into Law Merger Between Fire Service and EMS

During a bill-signing ceremony at the Omar Brown Fire Station on St. Thomas enacting the new law, Governor Bryan noted that the proposal to merge the Virgin Islands Fire Service and EMS had been put forth 15 years ago, and he recalled the efforts of the DeJongh Administration to get the measure passed through the V.I. Legislature.

“If we had done it then, imagine the people that maybe would have survived because Virgin Islanders could have responded not from one spot, but from five or six locations throughout the territory,” the governor said. “I really am proud to say today that we got it done. As this Administration moves forward, we’re keeping the promises that we made to the people in Year One by being persevering on all the things that we think are important. By trying and trying and trying, until we get it through.”

Governor Bryan Signs Into Law Merger Between Fire Service and EMS

Governor Bryan also thanked Senate Vice-President Novelle Francis for his efforts to pass the legislation, and he thanked Fire Service Director Daryl George and Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion for their perseverance in seeing the measure passed into law.

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VIFS Arson Unit Investigating Fire Started On Norre Gade Wednesday Night

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Four fire engine units and 14 personnel from three of the island’s four fire stations responded to a fire downtown on Wednesday, the Office of the Governor said.

At approximately 7:20 p.m., fire crews on St. Thomas were dispatched to a structure fire at 4B Norre Gade.

In 30 minutes, firefighters extinguished the fire, which occurred in the roof area of a building currently under construction.

The fire remains under investigation by the Arson Investigation and Prevention Unit.

“It was an eventful day, and I am extremely proud of our personnel’s performance,” said VIFS Director Daryl George. “On St. Thomas, firefighters worked well together to quickly extinguish a structure fire and prevent additional damage to the building and others around it.”

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Fire Personnel Rescue Motorists Trapped In Vehicles After 2 Separate Accidents

CHRISTIANSTED – Fire personnel responded to two vehicle rescue incidents on St. Croix on Wednesday, the Office of the Governor said.

At approximately 11:26 a.m., fire crews were dispatched to Northshore Road to the scene of the first incident that left a motorist pinned between their vehicle’s steering wheel and floorboard after the vehicle struck a utility pole.

Using specialized tools, firefighters and St. Croix Rescue members extricated the motorist from the vehicle.

First responders from the Virgin Islands Police Department (VIPD), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and St. Croix Rescue also responded to the accident.

Once freed, the driver was transferred to a stretcher and treated by EMS personnel, who transported the patient to the Juan F. Luis Hospital.

At approximately 5:34 p.m., fire personnel were dispatched to a second motor vehicle accident. Upon arriving to the scene on West Scenic Road, firefighters observed a SUV in the ravine approximately 30 feet from the roadway.

After traveling to the site of the vehicle and assessing the scene, fire personnel and St. Croix Rescue members employed rope rescue techniques to haul the motorist up the sloping terrain to the roadway.

VIPD officers responding to the incident provided additional assistance with the rescue. Once rescue operations were completed, the driver was treated by EMS personnel and transported to the Juan F. Luis Hospital.

“It was an eventful day, and I am extremely proud of our personnel’s performance,” said VIFS Director Daryl George. “In St. Croix, firefighters successfully executed rescue techniques taught in recent trainings and worked well with other first responders. To the men and women of the Fire Service, I say thank you and job well done. I also extend special thanks to our emergency response partners from St. Croix Rescue, EMS, and VIPD.”

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Virgin Islands Fire Service Responds To Blaze At Apartment Building In St. John

CRUZ BAY — Fire crews on St. John were dispatched to a reported structure fire in Estate Grunwald on St. John at 9:48 p.m. Sunday.

Six fire personnel and two units assigned to the Cruz Bay Fire Station initially responded to the scene, the Office of the Governor said.

Upon arrival, firefighters found a three-story wooden structure fully engulfed in flames and promptly commenced firefighting operations.

Within 20 minutes, four additional fire personnel from the Coral Bay Fire Station arrived on scene to assist the crews that first arrived.

Firefighters battled the blaze for a little over 14 hours. Enlisting the help of private water haulers, they were able to extinguish the fire using over 60,000 gallons of water and over 1,000 feet of hose.

In total, two tankers, one pumper, and one rescue vehicle were deployed to the scene.

Five firefighters sustained minor injuries. They were treated by Firefighter/EMTs on the scene, and two of the five were transported to the Myrah Keating Smith Clinic where they were examined by a doctor and released.

The structure, a 9-unit apartment complex, sustained significant damage. However, none of the residents reported any injuries.

Representatives from the American Red Cross were on site to provide assistance.

“I must commend the members of the Fire Service who responded to this fire,” said VIFS Director Daryl A. George. “They did a tremendous job. The courage and determination they displayed is truly admirable. I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge Prestige Water Delivery, B & C Trucking, Truck King, and L & N Trucking for supplying water on the scene. They played a major role in the success of our operations, and we are grateful for their assistance.”

This fire remains under investigation by the Arson Investigation and Prevention Unit.

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! Firefighters Learn Lifesaving Techniques In Training Sessions

KINGSHILL — The Virgin Islands Fire Service (VIFS) conducted vehicle extrication training exercises on the island of St. Croix recently.

Led by VIFS Territorial Training Coordinator James Bolton, the training provided firefighters with an opportunity to learn about tactics, tools, and techniques related to vehicle extrication and to practice extrication skills.

In addition to equipment, this training focused on the basics of extrication: stabilization, glass removal, door removal, roof removal and dash displacement.

During the hands-on component of the training, firefighters participated in simulated vehicle accidents to test their capabilities at the accident scene.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! Firefighters Learn Lifesaving Techniques In Training Sessions

Crews demonstrated emergency scene safety operations, command and control, patient assessment, extrication techniques, transfer to the medical authority, and proper methods for removing an injured patient from a heavily damaged vehicle.

“This type of hands-on training will be conducted multiple times each year to give the opportunity to our firefighters to respond to a simulated vehicle accident, take appropriate actions to safely treat and remove training mannequins from a vehicle,” said James Bolton, VIFS Territorial Training Coordinator.

VIFS Director Daryl George also explained that this type of exercise builds teamwork, improves confidence and helps reinforce the techniques needed to work effectively and efficiently during emergencies.

“Our USVI firefighters are the silent sentinels of the Virgin Islands who are ready to respond to any type of emergency, day or night,” George said. “These professionals constantly train to perfect their skills in rescue and firefighting operations, emergency medical and hazardous materials responses to help keep our communities safe and mission ready during unforeseen emergencies. I am very proud of this team for their dedication and capabilities they demonstrate every say.”

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Jeep Plunges Into Sea Off Veteran’s Drive As Rescuers Scramble To Save Motorists

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — First responders scrambled to rescue a motorist who plunged their SUV into the Caribbean Sea on the waterfront of St. Thomas last night.

Divers scoured the sea off of Veteran’s Drive as mixed emergency responders converged on the scene after the accident.

The VIPD, EMT, Fire and Rescue were on the scene just after a white Jeep entered the sea between 9 and 9:15 p.m. Thursday.

Jeep Plunges Into Sea Off Veteran's Drive As Rescuers Scramble To Save Motorists
Photos by Emmet Prevost

“We are receiving reports person has been pulled from the ocean [sic[ but that’s not confirmed,” AllAhWeTV reported. “Presently there are are more divers in the ocean, the vehicle has been located.”

No further information was available. No word from the VIPD about the accident.

Jeep Plunges Into Sea Off Veteran's Drive As Rescuers Scramble To Save Motorists

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Firefighters Respond To 3-Alarm Fire That Drove Ruby M. Rouse Resident From Home

CHRISTIANSTED — Firefighters on St. Croix responded to three-alarm fire near Watergut on Tuesday morning, authorities said.

The 911 Emergency Call Center dispatched Virgin Islands Fire Service personnel from the Herbert L. Canegata Fire Station (Richmond) to a reported structure fire at the Ruby M. Rouse Housing Community about 7:10 a.m. Tuesday, Government House said.

Two units from the station initially responded, and an additional unit from the Renceliar I. Gibbs Fire Station (Cotton Valley) later traveled to assist, according to Government House.

Once at the scene, first arriving crews observed smoke coming from a second story apartment and commenced firefighting operations. They were later joined by a fire crew from the Cotton Valley Fire Station. Using approximately 1,200 gallons of water, fire personnel extinguished the fire within 30 minutes.

The occupant of the residence was overcome by smoke and was given medical attention, VIFS said.

Although fire personnel were able to contain the fire to a southeastern bathroom, adjacent rooms sustained smoke and water damage.

The American Red Cross, which assists victims of fire was notified.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

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Firefighters Work To Extinguish 3-Alarm Fire At Home In Frenchtown Today

CHARLOTTE AMALIE Fire units from the Omar Brown Sr. Fire Station at Barbel Plaza were dispatched to a reported structural fire, with possible entrapments, in Frenchtown at 2:24 p.m. today. Additional reports to the 911 call center supported and confirmed the initial call of a structural fire, escalating it to a three-alarm fire.

Units and personnel from the Emile Berry Fire Station in Dorothea, Fortuna Fire Station and George Scott Fire
Station in Tutu were also dispatched to assist with the response, the Office of the Governor said.

Upon arrival, a three-story wood and masonry dwelling was observed with fire and smoke coming from the
doors and windows of the top and middle floors. Firefighting units were strategically positioned on western,
northern and southern sides, with two 1-1/2-inch quick-attack lines deployed from each side, the Governor’s Office said.

As all occupants of the building were safe and accounted for, the priority of the operations shifted to a defensive posture, protecting the surrounding houses from possible damage. On- and off-duty firefighters, Fire Service retirees,
members of the community, St. Thomas Rescue and VIPD worked feverishly to contain the fire to its footprint.
Approximately two hours after firefighting operations began, the fire was brought under control. Hot spots were identified and extinguished.

“Once again, I cannot thank the brave women and men of the VI Fire Service enough, for their continued hard
work in protecting the Virgin Islands community,” said Fire Chief David Hodge. “I would also like to thank the
Frenchtown Community for their support during the operations, along with the dispatchers at the 911 call
center, Emergency Medical Services, St. Thomas Rescue, the Virgin Islands Police Department, Callwood’s
Water Delivery, and the American Red Cross for their assistance with the operations.”

After expressing gratitude to everyone who assisted with the response, Chief Hodge called for the community to
remain mindful of those impacted by the fire.

“Let’s be reminded to keep the families and individuals, that were affected by this life changing event, in our
prayers,” he said.

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Police Investigating Bomb Threat To Westin St. John Resort Villas Today

CRUZ BAY — Police responded to a bomb threat call about the Westin St. John Resort Villas about 10 a.m. today.

“The investigation revealed the resort received a phone call stating a bomb was going to explode on the property,” VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said. “The male caller allegedly called the resort staff member by name while making the threat.” 

The resort management was advised to evacuate the resort as police officers and Virgin Islands Fire Services personnel sweeped the property for a bomb, according to the VIPD. 

“There was no explosive device or material found onsite, therefore authorities provided an ‘All Clear’ around 2:45 p.m.,” Derima added.

This incident remains under active police investigation. Anyone with information that can assist officers in solving this crime can contact police by calling 911, the Criminal Investigation Bureau at (340) 774-2211, or anonymously to Crime Stoppers USVI at (800) 222-TIPS.

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VING, Fire Service HAZMAT Unit Conduct Air Quality Monitoring Inside Limetree Bay

CHRISTIANSTED — The Virgin Islands National Guard’s Civil Support Team (CST), in conjunction with the Virgin Island Fire Department’s HAZMAT unit, took its air quality monitoring and testing inside the Limetree Bay refinery Sunday after finding elevated levels of sulfur dioxide near the refinery on Saturday.

The team spent more than four and a half hours on Sunday conducting an extensive investigation within the refinery, including air quality readings and chemical tests. Sunday’s investigations, however, did not find any elevated levels of sulfur dioxide within the refinery.

While the investigation Sunday did not indicate elevated levels of sulfur dioxide within the refinery, the team continues to investigate the possibility of sporadic releases within the refinery.

VING, Fire Service HAZMAT Unit Conduct Air Quality Monitoring Inside Limetree Bay

The team is also investigating to determine whether the refinery’s operation may have contributed to the environmental noxious odors that the communities across St. Croix experienced over the past week, which have contributed to some health concerns.

The CST and Fire Department’s HAZMAT team will each continue monitoring Sunday evening and this morning and will mobilize to conduct spot checks in affected residential areas.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency continues to conduct active monitoring and have mobilized the newly acquired monitoring instrumentation to identify elevated chemical constituents in the atmosphere.

Residents with respiratory ailments such as allergies, lung disease, or asthma are strongly encouraged to consider staying indoors or taking other protective actions.

If you have questions or need to report the smell of a noxious or gaseous odor, please call DPNR at (340) 773-1082 ext. 2221 or the Environmental Health Division at (340) 718-1311 ext. 3709.