Regional

More resources needed!

Hibbert calls for help to tackle spate of Hanover fires

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter

Thursday, June 05, 2014    

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LUCEA, Hanover — Head of the Hanover Fire Department Deputy Superintendent Paul Hibbert has called for more resources to boost the capability of the brigade to deal with the current spate of fires in the parish.

Arguing that there is presently only one unit- based at the Lucea station- to service the entire parish- Hibbert stressed the need for three additional fire stations to properly cover the western parish.

"One more (unit) will probably do for the town of Lucea and its environs, but it wouldn't be one more for the parish. Hanover stretches all the way to Cambridge (in St James) and Negril and we have to take into consideration that Ramble is also in Hanover," he explained.

"We would consider having a station in Green Island, a station in Hopewell and a station in Haughton Grove. And even if we have those three stations to add to this one (Lucea) then it would still not be sufficient," he argued.

The divisional commander's appeal comes in the wake of almost 20 massive fires in the parish in recent months, which have left three persons- an infant and two senior citizens- dead, a baby hospitalised, and major structural damage to several dwellings and business places.

The first of the three deaths resulting from fires in the parish came on April 27, when Kemar Parkins- a two -year- old baby- perished in a blaze that destroyed the house she occupied with her family in the Salt Spring area of Hanover.

Twenty days after, an elderly man, whose identity was only ascertained as 'Police', died in another blaze which gutted a three-apartment board house in which he was living in Orange Bay, Hanover.

Then, as recent as early as last Saturday morning, 62-year-old Joseph Scarlett died and a two- year- old baby girl hospitalised, after fire- believed to have been started by a lit candle- gutted a six-apartment concrete structure in Davis Cove, also in the parish.

The baby, whose back and hands were reportedly severely burnt, remained in hospital yesterday.

Her condition is said to be improving satisfactorily.

But according to her aunt, Sania Nembhard, the entire family is devastated by the unfortunate incident.

"She's doing well," said Nembhard. "So far she is coming around and she wants to come home."

She said Scarlett's tragic death and the acute burns suffered by his granddaughter have left the entire family devastated.

"The whole family is stressed out right now. Everybody shaken up," she noted, adding that "there was nothing that the firemen could do to save him (Scarlett) because when they came everything was on fire."

In the meantime, Deputy Superintendent Hibbert revealed that his department has been partnering with several groups, including government agencies to educate citizens about ways to lessen the instances of destructive fires.

"From time to time we continue to do mitigation exercises with the various groups and agencies. And we work in collaboration with other groups such as RADA, ODPEM and the (Hanover) parish council. We work with them in order to inform persons of practices that they should be aware of to carry out in order to prevent injuries and the loss of lives when it comes to fire and other natural disasters," he explained.

He stressed however, that plans are in place to intensify fire safety activities across the parish.

"What we are presently doing is putting in plans. We will be going into areas to carry out fire safety activities," said Hibbert. "We have fire wardens that we train in different communities and these persons act as first responders if there is an emergency, not just fire, in case there is an emergency, these persons would do mitigation until the fire brigade arrives."

The deputy superintendent also appealed to residents to call the Lucea fire station directly first in case of an emergency, rather than calling the toll free number.

" I also encourage persons to be aware of the number of the station that is in their location. Say for Hanover, I would like persons to know that the number for the station is 9562220 because when you call 110 (toll free number) you are going to be speaking to somebody in Kingston. That person is going to have to be asking questions to find out where....... then when that person speaks to our watch room person, they might not be able to pinpoint the direct location of the fire at the same time," he explained.

"But when you speak directly to the station in your location then that person will ask and get the direct location. And we can tell you, when we get the direct information, then in one minute's time we should be out responding."

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