Firemen occupy unsafe building
THE building housing the St James Fire Department at Barnett Street in Montego Bay is on the brink of collapse and the management is looking seriously at relocation.
Superintendent Errol Mowatt, said, however, that relocation was only a contingency, in the event funds were not available to rebuild the station at its present site.
Sources told the Observer that a technical team from the Ministry of Local Government visited the Barnett Street station and declared that it was in need of demolition because of the poor quality of the infrastructure.
“Based on the existing conditions of the present facility, something has to be done in the shortest possible time,” Mowatt told the Observer.
He said the department had identified a possible relocation site at the old Palladium Theatre on Church Street in Montego Bay.
“Given the extent of the work that needs to be done, it will have to be stretched out over the next two to three years and done in phases,” the superintendent said, adding that the first phase of work would cost about $20 million.
In the meantime, however, the St James Parish Council is opposed to any relocation of the fire station.
“I think that the fire department is located at the ideal place in Montego Bay. It is located on lands owned by the government,” said Mayor, Hugh Solomon.
He added that the only focus should be getting the present facility repaired.
“What we need to push for is the improvement of the fire department. What they need to do is knock down what they have there and build up something that is worthy to be called a fire station.”
Councillor Donald Colamathi, Spring Mount Division (PNP), was also opposed to any relocation.
“I am no professional person as it relates to fire prevention or firefighting. But … the easiest place for them to operate from is where they are now,” Colamathi said.
He added that a move, particularly to Church Street could mean disaster, as they would have to contend with traffic congestion.