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US donates equipment to Jamaica Fire Brigade

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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THE United States Embassy on Monday donated $30 million worth of equipment to the Jamaica Fire Brigade, to help in its fight against man-made and natural disasters across the island.

At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development offices in Kingston, outgoing United States Chargé d'Affaires to Jamaica, Eric Khant, said the US Government has always been committed to strengthening Jamaica's capacity, adding that it is important to always be prepared.

“Minister McKenzie and I often discuss Jamaica's disaster preparedness. We both recognise that one major disaster can wipe out tremendous progress Jamaica has made through the past decade. As such, investing in disaster preparedness is investing in Jamaica's future.

“The United States believes in Jamaica's future and we are committed to working with Jamaican partners, as well as international partners, to ensure that when a disaster strikes, Jamaica is fully prepared to manage the disaster and minimise the level of devastation,” Khant said.

He pointed out that to address disasters effectively, one must look beyond their own borders.

“That is why I'm glad that most recently, we conducted a joint exercise with members of the District of Columbia National Guard, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), focused on real time on-the-ground response, should a major earthquake occur on this island. We pray that need never arises. But should it, we know Jamaica is better prepared,” he said.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie expressed his appreciation to the United States Embassy, and noted that the relationship between the US and Jamaica has brought several benefits to Jamaicans.

“We are exceedingly happy this morning that a part of that tradition is continuing here with a presentation of vital equipment to the Jamaica Fire Brigade. Just over two years ago, we engaged the US Embassy and the minister, and after extensive discussions, we were asked to prepare a checklist showing what it is that we believe would help to strengthen the response of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

“We looked at a slew of equipment that would be of importance to the response capabilities of the brigade. Out of that, this morning, we are here to receive eight sets of equipment. These are equipment that will go a far way in saving lives,” McKenzie said, adding, “It is important that when we ask the members of the fire brigade to put their lives on the line, we provide the necessary equipment to make them perform well in their duties.”

“As a country we are grateful to the fire brigade, and this Administration has spared no expense in providing the requisite support to maintain the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” he continued.

Khant left Jamaica on Tuesday to assume his new role in the United States Department of State. He will be in both the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and the Bureau of Energy Resources in Washington, DC.

Jamaica and the USA, through the US Embassy in Jamaica and development agencies, have shared a long-standing relationship in disaster management, coordination and response.

— Shanae Stewart


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