The unreliable Fire Brigade

Wednesday, December 25, 2013    

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Dear Editor,

It seems the Jamaica Fire Brigade is non-existent.

On December 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm, I saw pockets of smoke in the bushes behind our house in Hellshire, St Catherine.

The fires were at first non-threatening, but we didn't wait for things to get worse, so we called the fire department. They said they will send a unit.

Half an hour later, no fire truck. The fires soon consumed the nearby bushes, the smoke grew thicker and darker to the point of blocking the sea view.

We called again. They said they already sent a unit. But where is it?

One hour later the smoke went into our house. One of my family members has a bad case of asthma and there was no way he could have stayed inside. But where would he go?

Outside? Into the smoke? We hurriedly took him away in our vehicle.

But what if there were no vehicle that day? I don't know what would happen to him.

The flames reached the back fence of our house, and was creeping up on the right fence. And still no fire truck. I couldn't take it anymore. This is my only home and I'm not letting it burn due to the incompetence or rather non-existence of the brigade.

Thank God for the pond near the back fence of our house. So I took a damp cloth to put around my mouth and nose, a goggles, whispered a prayer, and went with a bucket to take from the pond. And with great difficulty, I threw the water at the fire. The helper took the hose and dampened the ground outside the right fence to prevent the fire from spreading.

Eventually, the fire had no more bush or grass to feed itself, so we were able to bring it under control — with no thanks to the fire brigade.

The fire truck came, but saw no need to do anything, of course, and left.

It could have been worse. We're not firefighters! Is that what we are getting out of our taxes that we pay? Everything in this country is taxed, yet there is little if any improvement to anything, let alone the fire brigade.

That this Goverment can't find money for the fire department yet can find one hundred million dollars for Emancipation/Independence celebrations will forever be a mystery

to me.

And don't think it's the first time something like this happened. I sympathise with the residents of Mandeville who unfortunately had their share of experience with bush fires, but were able to contain it by themselves.

To the present Government of Jamaica, shape up, or ship out.

Concerned homeowner and taxpayer

Hellshire, St Catherine

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