Veteran firefighter Terri-Ann Leslie grateful for national honours


Veteran firefighter Terri-Ann Leslie grateful for national honours

Thursday, January 07, 2021

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IRONSHORE, St James -Veteran firefighter Terri-Ann Leslie has always wanted to become a nurse but not able to attain a passing grade in mathematics in her exit examinations at high school, she was unable to immediately pursue her life-long dream after graduation.

But determined to pursue that career path, Leslie decided that she would get a part-time job, while continuing her schooling.

It was during that time that she came across a newspaper article which indicated that the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) would be starting an Emergency Medical Services (EMS). She later applied and her application was accepted.

However, there was another hurdle—Leslie had to be trained as a firefighter before she could pursue training as an EMS technician.

She said after completing her training as a firefighter, “the joy of being a female battling fires in a male-dominated job got the better of me,” and as such she decided against becoming a nurse or an EMS technician.

“I have never worked in that department [EMS] as I found love in firefighting. Going out as a female, with persons not knowing that a female is actually at the battlefront until everything has subsided, gives me great joy…to represent my country, to represent my family, [and] persons who know me,” Leslie shared.

A few years after becoming a firefighter, the St James native was promoted as a sub-officer. She then went in pursuit of a supervisory management course followed by business studies and topped it off with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies with honours at The University of the West Indies. Now an assistant superintendent, Leslie is based in the research and development department at the JFB headquarters.

She was among the three members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade from St James, who were in October recognised during the 51st Annual National Honours and Awards for making a meaningful and significant impact on national life.

The trio received their medal of honour at the Ironshore Fire Station during a small ceremony recently, instead of on the lawns of King's House, due to the restrictions on gathering because of the pandemic.

Leslie was recognised for meritorious service, while the others, Sergeant Donway Godfrey, who was also honoured for meritorious service; and Sergeant Terrence Hurlock for long service.

All three have each given 24 years of service to the brigade.

Godfrey told the Jamaica Observer West that “it has been a wonderful journey in giving service to the country.”

“If I should regain my youth and have to choose a career path, I would choose one in the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” he expressed.

“My heart is warmed because of the fact that I was honoured here today [recently] by my country for exemplary service to my country, and I look forward to carrying on the fight of saving lives and protecting property.”

And an appreciative Hurlock said the 24 years of service in the Jamaica Fire Brigade is well worth it.

In August of 1996, Hurlock had just completed a course in hotel accounting and front office at Kenilworth HEART Academy in Hanover when representatives of the JFB visited the institution. It so happened that all four males in the female-dominated class were selected to do an interview for jobs in the hospitality sector the same day the JFB had a recruitment drive. However, Hurlock and another classmate decided to do the JFB interview instead.

Both were successful in joining the JFB, while the others gained employment at a hotel.

“It is good to be recognised. Once you do good work, it is always nice when somebody can recognise and appreciate the efforts. So, it was a nice gesture,” expressed Hurlock.

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