Western News

Ironshore fire station to remain open, be renovated, according to McKenzie

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, September 19, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie says the Ironshore fire station in St James will remain open after the construction of the $500-million state-of-the-art building to house the Barnett Street fire station in the parish.

“I have indicated that the other station in Montego Bay [Ironshore], that, that one will not be closed. I have asked that an estimate be done so that we can renovate that one. Keep that one going, so at least the capacity of the brigade will be able to respond [to any eventuality],” stated McKenzie.

The original Barnett Street fire station which was in a state of disrepair was demolished over a decade ago with plans to construct a new one at the same location.

The brigade has since been temporarily located in the Freeport area of Montego Bay.

After several announcements for the construction of a new facility, ground was eventually broken in June, and work is expected to be completed within another 12 months. It will house some 200 firefighters who will serve the needs of approximately 200,000 residents across 78 communities in St James and adjoining parishes.

McKenzie told members of the media last week Thursday during a tour of the construction site, that work is expected to be completed on time and within budget.

“My understanding after speaking to Mr [Omar] Sweeney, [managing director, Jamaica Social Investment Fund], the contractor and the mayor [Homer Davis], the project is running ahead of schedule coming in on budget and is expected to be completed on time using the same budget that has been projected. And once the facility is completed it will solve the problem here in Montego Bay, and not only in Montego Bay, but the western parts of the island because there is no denying that over the years, the brigade lacked the kind of support to give it what is needed,” McKenzie explained.

The local government minister further pointed out that since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government took office in February 2016, close to $800 million has been spent on improving the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), which includes the building out of facilities and provision of vital equipment for firefighters.

He noted that “In this year's budget, for example, for the first time in the history of the Jamaica Fire Brigade we are not buying one truck. We are not buying two. We are providing eight brand new trucks at a cost of over $400 million and when you take into consideration the trucks that we are getting from JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund) for the last financial year and this financial year, the Jamaica Fire Brigade will at least have some 16 new trucks at its disposal including water tankers, two of which are present in the island.”

Additionally, he said, construction work is to commence by the end of October, on the Port Maria fire station in St Mary, while Cabinet recently approved a contract for the construction of a station in Yallahs, St Thomas.

McKenzie said work is expected to be completed on all three stations by the end of the next calendar year.

The Barnett Street project is being undertaken under JSIF's [World Bank] Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project.

JFB assistant commissioner with responsibility for Area Four, Floyd McLean, said the new station will assist in boosting the morale of his staff who is currently utilising “borrowed property” at Freeport.

“From time to time, there are situations that they might not be comfortable with, so it is a good push, and I can't wait to occupy the building,” argued McLean, who noted that “it will better assist the fire department to better serve the community.”


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