Minister McKenzie calls on Jamaicans to appreciate firefighters
Minister Desmond McKenzie (fourth right) leads dignitaries in unveiling a sign at the new site of the Ulster Spring Fire Station.

ULSTER SPRING, Trelawny — Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie has made an appeal to Jamaicans to show more appreciation for members of the Jamaica Fire Brigade as they carry out their duties.

Speaking during a ground-breaking ceremony last Friday for a new fire station in Ulster Spring, Trelawny, McKenzie sought to impress upon members of the public how their actions can exacerbate the challenges firefighters face, especially during times of emergency.

“We are in the hurricane season… the Jamaica Fire Brigade is a critical player in this. I want to urge you here in Trelawny to listen to the various media warnings, pay attention to it; don’t force the men and women of the fire brigade to have to come out to risk their lives to save you because you never hear. They are committed to the job but we as residents must also show our appreciation to them,” McKenzie urged.

“I want to appeal, not just to the residents in Ulster Spring but to the wider Jamaica, to say to us all that we have a gem in the men and women of the Jamaica Fire Brigade that many of us do not appreciate… I want to urge my fellow Jamaicans to let us remember that their role is critical. The job that they do has danger from the start to the finish and even after they have completed the operations,” the minister added.

He cited an incident in McGregor Gully, while he was mayor of Kingston, where, despite warnings about the threat of flooding, residents stayed in the area and later had to be rescued by members of the fire brigade.

“Hours after, when the rains started and the flooding, the truck with the firefighters was almost submerged in the gully. They had to use rope to lift persons whose ears did have macka inna it,” the minister lamented.

He said the Government is committed to providing the resources and moral support firefighters need to get the job done.

Work is expected to begin on the 5,000-square foot Ulster Spring fire station later this year, according to McKenzie. It will be the second one in the parish.

“I am expecting that the latter part of this year construction will commence and I am committing myself to be back here next year, long before now, to open this new facility here in Ulster Spring,” the minister promised.

He added that St Elizabeth will also get a new fire station.

“We have identified Balaclava in St Elizabeth as our next stop and we will continue the discussions with the Jamaica Fire Brigade in identifying the dead spots in the country where there is a need for fire service to be put in place,” the minister said.

The new building at Ulster Spring, which will be made from retrofitted shipping containers, will house two units, a pumper and an ambulance and will provide accommodations for 45 members of staff. The two-storey building will feature gender-specific bathrooms and dormitories, recreational space, a kitchen and other amenities found in a modern fire station.

Minister Desmond McKenzie (centre) is joined by (from right) councillor for the Ulster Spring Division Dr Pauline Fosterp; commissioner for the Jamaica Fire Brigade Stewart Beckford; Member of Parliament for Trelawny Southern Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert; and mayor of Falmouth Councillor C Junior Gager for the ceremonial ground breaking for the new fire station last Friday.

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