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Kellier wants revision of firefighting tactics

Published:Monday | July 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Derrick Kellier (left), member of parliament for South St James, speaks with residents of Maroon Town during the official handover of a first-response fire unit for the community. Also present are Leslie Nembhard (second left), sales manager at Fidelity Motors, and Councillor Glendon Harris (background at right), who is also chairman of the St James Parish Council.

Western Bureau:

South St James Member of Parliament Derrick Kellier thinks the methods used by the Jamaica Fire Brigade to navigate densely populated rural areas to tackle fires across parishes should be revised in order to improve effectiveness.

"The truth of the matter is that the fire services of this country are inadequate. We have to modernise the approach to firefighting in this country and how we deal with that business," Kellier said while addressing a recent handover of a first-response fire unit for the Maroon Town community in his constituency.

"Many years ago, when the fire services were established the way they were, the population was much less. There were fewer houses and fewer communities," Kellier said.

"Since then, more communities have been built up, and in some cases, because of the informal nature of some of these communities, neither the fire services nor the police can access them."

 

PLANNING BEYOND BORDERS

 

Because of the many and varied challenges faced by firefighters in the execution of their duties, Kellier said new strategies need to be devised to improve their effectiveness, especially with regard to dealing with fires in neighbouring jurisdiction.

When you are doing your planning, you have to plan for fires beyond your borders. You have to look at the landscape and see how the road network would allow you to service areas beyond your parish borders because you notice what happens when there is a fire that is too big that you cannot manage? You have to call the men from the other parish to come help you," said Kellier.

"The whole business of ensuring that we keep our environment safe and secure, especially from fire, is very important. It does not stop just at the fire, but it also encompasses all the other things that are attendant when a fire takes place."

The first-response fire unit was donated by Fidelity Motors at a cost of $2.4 million.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade will train residents of Maroon Town to serve as fire wardens in their district.

In 2014, the St James Parish Council had advanced plans to acquire a first-response unit to aid in firefighting efforts in the rural sections of the parish.

These plans were in response to requests from as far back as 1970 for fire stations or posts to be erected in Cambridge and Maroon Town, which are difficult areas to access geographically.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com