News

More than 100 lose homes to fires monthly

Jamaicans urged to take fire prevention measures

Thursday, December 12, 2013    

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MORE than 100 Jamaicans go homeless as a result of fires each month, the Jamaica Fire Brigade has reported.

The department said that from July to November this year it received 3,127 calls reporting fires. While some of those calls were malicious, the actual events claimed eight lives and left a total of 665 people homeless.

Listed among the cause for some of the fires were gang violence, arson and negligence.

Dissecting the data, acting Senior Deputy Superintendent of the Jamaica Fire Department Emilio Ebanks told the Jamaica Observer that, for the month of July, the department received 925 calls reporting actual fires. Another 123 turned out to be false alarms.

For August, the number of genuine calls was 757, with another 96 being malicious. More than 100 people lost their homes that month.

The number of calls decreased incrementally over the next three months, with September recording 607 — 90 of which were malicious — October registering 562 — 94 of which were false alarms — and November seeing a total of 533, 73 of which were fake.

There were six fire-related deaths from July to September, with 428 people losing their homes over the period. September alone accounted for 110 of them.

"In October, two people were killed by fire (and) a total of 125 persons were left homeless," Ebanks said. "In November, fires left 112 people homeless for that month," he added.

Ebanks said the department was concerned that so many people continue to abuse the system by placing prank calls as it takes a toll on the already overburdened firefighting system. He, therefore, issued a call to Jamaicans to be more sensitive about fire safety and to make greater efforts to adhere to fire prevention measures. This, he said, is crucial, especially at Christmastime since the number of fires are likely to increase. "This is one of the seasons when we normally see an increase in the number of calls," he told the Observer.

Last Friday, firemen in the Portmore Municipality reported that since the start of December they have been called to extinguish approximately 20 blazes, the majority of which were bush fires.

"With the approach of the holiday season, more people are carrying out clean-up activities and are making illegal attempts to dispose of their garbage by fire, and this is one of the causes for some of these fires," said one fireman, who was seen extinguishing a bush fire in the municipality.

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