BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 1, 2020– Belize’s National Fire Service is currently searching for a building to temporarily house their headquarters after the building in which they conducted their central operations in Belize City was sold by the Government of Belize to Atlantic Bank. Earlier this week, the news began to spread that the fire station located on Cleghorn Street would have to be vacated by December of this year, because the property had been purchased back in March.
The bank reportedly spent $2.8 million on the acquisition, and it is speculated that they will be using the prime land as a parking lot for their establishment. According to the Minister responsible for the Fire Department, Hon. Edmond Castro, the bank has already paid for the land, and the intent is to build a new station in the Holy Emmanuel area near Chetumal Boulevard, but the work has yet to begin, and as a result, the fire fighters and the offices of the Belize City branch of the National Fire Service will have to be temporarily relocated in December.
Hon. Castro also stated in an interview on Monday that even prior to the sale of the land, the department had already been seeking relocation because the current station is “really crammy for the type and size of trucks to be maneuvering in and out of that area.”
On Wednesday, the Government issued a press release offering further details on the history of the Belize City fire station, which was built under the PUP in 1992 by way of an $8 million contract. According to the release, however, the facility only had a market value of $2 million at the time. The GOB asserts that this was a poor investment from which the country never got its money’s worth:
“It was clear that Belize never got value for money. This inadequate facility was built on a very small lot with no room for expansion. Furthermore, the congested area makes it very difficult for the equipment to be quickly deployed in the event of emergencies, and the small building space provides very little room for the fire service to operate properly,” stated the release.
The current government claims, however, that they did not have the resources to do anything about the situation until this deal with Atlantic Bank presented the opportunity.
Now the new department will be placed on a 1.5-acre parcel of land in the Lake Independence Development Area. There will be a water storage and tanking system on the site, which is scheduled to undergo development that will cost $3.3 million.