Senior JFB board member calls for partnerships to maintain fire stations

Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 03, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James— Dr Keith Amiel, deputy chairman of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) board, has challenged hoteliers and other business operators to partner with the JFB in an effort to ensure that its facilities and equipment are in working order.

“I'm concerned that these multimillion building(owners) around would sit and allow a fire station not to have a proper toilet when they are there to help to defend these businesses. So there needs to be more communication between the hotel and tourist industry and the businessmen and the fire brigade so as to make sure it works well,” Dr Amiel remarked.

“The board fights with the Government to get money to even provide protective gear, to upgrade the fire stations and so on.”

Dr Amiel also suggested that like in some other countries, residents should become fire brigade home guards to prevent fires, as well as fight them, ahead of the arrival of firefighters.

“Mr Mayor (Councillor Homer Davis), I have been to countries where they have fire brigade home guards where they ring a bell in the community and residents who live there report for duty because they have been trained in fire prevention, in resuscitation and so on. They don't wait for a brigade to come from the nearest capital town to them one hour later, they act. We don't have this in Jamaica, and we probably should look at it as a way of prevention,” the JFB deputy chairman argued.

He also had strong words for the media whom he accused of not highlighting the carelessness of people who cause fires, but publicise criticism of the alleged late arrival of firefighters at scenes of blazes.

“I have a problem with the press where the news tonight will talk about how the fire brigade came late. And, the woman who turned over the pot in the kitchen is on the sidewalk saying the fire brigade came late. Beside her is another woman who left a lighted candle with her babies to go to a dance down the road and the place burn down and the story is how the fire brigade came late,” Dr Amiel stated.

For his part, Commissioner of the JFB Stewart Beckford added that he is peeved over comments by members of the public that fire units are reporting to scenes of fire without water.

“I heard the deputy chairman make mention of the fact that members of the public generally blame us for coming late and that's a long-standing story, so to speak. But, the one that hit me for six most of the time when they say we come without water. Not sure exactly what we would be going there to do because we are not fire observers, we are firefighters, and if we go without water obviously we are going there to observe,” Beckford remarked.

They were both speaking at the official opening ceremony of Montego Bay's new fire-boat station and the handover of two firetrucks and a fire-boat in Montego Bay, St James last Friday.

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