St James Fire Dept launches fire prevention drive; trains cops, soldiers as safety wardens


St James Fire Dept launches fire prevention drive; trains cops, soldiers as safety wardens

Observer West reporter

Thursday, October 29, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -Expressing concern about an increase in fires resulting from equipment in homes, the St James Fire Department will, as of today, intensify its fire safety message across the parish with the use of public address (PA) systems.

Data from the St James Fire Department reveals that up to the end of last month response to fires caused by electrical equipment stood at 51, a roughly 65 per cent increase over the same period last year.

“One particular point to note is that we are down in the major fires [but] we are now seeing an increase in electrical equipment fires,” Winsome Grant, acting divisional commander of the St James Fire Department, told the Jamaica Observer West.

“During the course of the week though, we are mindful of COVID, we will be using PA systems to take fire and life safety messages in communities across the parish. So we will be out there Thursday and Friday in the wider communities using PA systems from motor vehicles to impart fire and life safety messages, most of which are tailor-made for the particular community that we will be focusing on,” Grant said.

She was speaking with the Observer West on Monday at the Freeport Police Station in Montego Bay, during the first of a two-day training of members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) , as safety wardens in the parish of St James.

“We are training members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and five members of the Jamaica Defence Force, for the first time, as fire and life safety wardens in the parish of St James. It is very important,” Grant stressed.

She also disclosed that there was a similar training running concurrently at the

Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre for the Cornwall Regional Hospital staff.

“So today [Monday] we have two training sessions running is also going on just now at the Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre in Mount Salem, where we are training members of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH).

“Both the police station and CRH are the greatest risk for the fire department in the parish. Any emergency occurring in any of these occupancies will take a lot from the department and from the internal processes of both organisations,” she stated.

The training sessions, dubbed: 'Emergency Response in a Pandemic', formed part of the observance of Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week that was held under the theme: 'Being Fire Safe while Socially Distant'.

“Most times organisations put security over safety. Can you imagine evacuating our prison cells during an emergency? We want to get it right so myself and Superintendent [Vernon] Ellis for the past two weeks, along with the disaster coordinator, find it to be very prudent to have this training. The first day of the training encompass classroom presentation and the second day we will have short quizzes with some first aid lift and carry practical exercises.”

The acting divisional commander revealed that since the start of the year, the brigade has inspected all the police stations within the St James division and “we will be working very closely to have at least one before December 31, be certified as fire safety compliant.”

Deputy Superintendent in charge of administration at the Montego Bay Police Station, Pheonia Watson, expressed her appreciation for the partnership with the fire brigade.

“This training is integral to the St James police division as we have one of the largest numbers in the west and at the police station in Freeport the largest of four lock-ups. Training is very integral and we must thank the fire brigade for partnering with us as well as members of the JDF, who will be a part of the training as well. We look forward to being in partnership at all times, and the Jamaica Fire Brigade is one of our key partners,” the senior cop expressed.

“This is very important for the division as when persons are restricted, security is higher, and as it relates to fires, it can happen anywhere at any time. So, if we are trained and we have persons who are trained to save lives in the event of a fire, this is great. This is one of the reasons why we continue to partner with our stakeholders to ensure that the lives of the prisoners, our members and clients at this institution are safe.”

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