It was the last day of the most recent industrial action by the Saint Lucia Fire Service. Friday, March 22, 2019 was also the date of a road accident at Union, Castries involving 82-year-old Clement Florius and his wife Teresa. Clement succumbed to his injuries the following day—which immediately set off public speculation about whether the unavailability of emergency services had been a factor in his death. According to the online Saint Lucia Times: “Emergency officials said all the injured were transported to Victoria Hospital by private means . . . because firefighters were on strike at the time.”
On Monday March 18, four days before the fatal accident, Security Minister Hermangild Francis had stated to reporters: “Some of the issues of the fire service are pertinent and pressing and must be addressed. And we will address them. But none of these issues are life-threatening. When you can take action, some of the things that might occur because you have withdrawn your services, can be life-threatening.” And then there were the online political analysts, one of whom wrote: “So what about the deaths you caused by your strike greed? . . . Which politician will represented [sic] you on Judgement Day?”
Shane Felix, president of the Saint Lucia Fire Services Association told the STAR: “I want first of all to extend condolences to the Florius family. It’s unfortunate that the gentleman would have lost his life at a time like this. We sympathise with them. There was no such intent to bring any such situation on any Saint Lucian family.”
The SLFSA president absolved his colleagues of all blame. He said: “It’s sad that under the current circumstances, certain people would look to blame us for what happened. There are other circumstances that have prompted this tragedy. I spoke to the son of the deceased, and in my conversations with him there didn’t seem to be any indication that he holds the fire service responsible for his father’s death.
It was important for me to confirm with the son the circumstances of the death, to get his view of what really transpired. As I’ve said, there’s no indication from his family’s standpoint that the emergency services were responsible for his father’s passing.” The fire services returned to work on March 25.