Gov't acquires land for Papine fire station
Colin Fagan, minister of state in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, disclosed yesterday that negotiations were under way for the construction of a fire station to serve Papine and neighbouring communities.
A source of funding for the well-needed fire station has been identified, he said, and they have made progress in the negotiations, but he declined to identify the funding agency.
"I think Senator (Norman) Grant may have pre-empted us a little because we are way down the wicket as far as that is concerned. We have secured land and are in discussion with one of the agencies which has committed to assist us, but it is not time for announcement," he declared.
Fagan was responding to queries from The Gleaner during the official launch of the Community Bush Fire Management Programme at York Park Fire Station, downtown Kingston.
East rural St Andrew fires
Grant, the guest speaker, had earlier requested that a fire station be established at Papine, given the dire need as highlighted by the bush fires which wreaked havoc in east rural St Andrew this year.
Fagan noted that a fire station was a must, given the Government's long-term plan for the development of Papine-which is home to the University of Technology and University of the West Indies, Mona campus - as a university town.
"We have realised that the need is great, and so we are committed to ensuring that it (fire station) becomes a reality, but I can't put a timeline on it," Fagan said.
Meanwhile, Errol Mowatt, commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, endorsed the urgent need for a fire station, given that Papine is one of the most populous towns in Jamaica. He, however, pointed to the resource constraint, among other challenges.
"It takes a lot of resources to establish a new fire station, but we have been trying for many years to acquire land in the Papine area. Where we are now? ... We have acquired a plot of land on which we intend to build a fire station. Obviously, it's going to take some time, because to develop a fire station from scratch, you need a start with a building, then you need to furnish that building, equip and staff it, as well as put a unit there," the fire chief noted.
He continued: "At the moment, the general Papine area is supported by the Half-Way Tree Fire Station, which is the busiest fire station in Jamaica. Unfortunately, we can only have one unit there, and because it is so busy, it is likely that when a call comes in from Papine or any other area around, we may not have a unit there to respond, and so a unit may have to come from a station that is farther away than Papine."
Given the heavy traffic along the Half-Way Tree corridor, response times can run as much 20 minutes, depending on the time of day.