ST JAMES, Jamaica— Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, has described the official opening of the multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art Montego Bay Fire Station in St James as a “game changer” for the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).
The facility’s construction, which commenced in June 2019, was spearheaded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under its Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme.
The station was completed at a cost of $580 million and houses a hi-tech gym, offices, dormitory facilities and accommodation for over 170 firefighters.
Addressing the opening ceremony on Friday (May 13) on the grounds of the four-storey facility, McKenzie stated that the new fire station represents the government's commitment to improve the working conditions of firefighters.
“We are proud… that we have been able to respond to the needs of the men and women of the Jamaica fire brigade,” McKenzie said.
“This administration is committed in ensuring [the well-being] of the men and women of the Jamaica Fire Brigade… and I want to commend them for working in conditions that demonstrate their ability, commitment, and loyalty to the job,” he added.
Noting that the fire station boosts the capacity of the JFB to serve parishes in western Jamaica, the Minister urged citizens to support the investment.
McKenzie also announced plans to upgrade the existing fire stations in Montego Bay to provide a proper working environment for firefighters attached to the division.
“I want to give the people of St James the assurance that we will not be closing any of the other stations because of this, we will be moving to upgrade those stations around Montego Bay,” he said.
Meanwhile, McKenzie disclosed that as government continues to build out the infrastructure of the JFB, ground will be broken in about three weeks for the construction of a new fire station in Ulster Spring, Trelawny, while stations in Port Maria, St Mary, and Yallahs, St Thomas, will also be opened this year.
“Balaclava in St Elizabeth will be our next location and we will be opening shortly not one, but two brand new facilities in Port Maria, St Mary, and in Yallahs, St Thomas,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, said that the facility will enhance the capacity of the JFB to save lives and property in western Jamaica.
“Today [May 13], in line with our mandate of protecting the vulnerable and poor in Jamaica, this intervention of building the capacity of the Jamaica Fire Brigade is designed to… fight fires caused by drought”.
He continued: “It is also designed to ensure that the more than 200,000 residents, business owners and others that are in the capture area of the fire station, are better protected by having the capacity right here on Barnett Street to respond to disasters.”