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Morine Thompson: Firefighter proves women effective as leaders

Published:Monday | March 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Morine Thompson

When Morine Thompson entered the Jamaica Fire Brigade in November 1976, her plan was to save enough money to pursue what she thought was her dream of becoming a teacher. That dream is now history, however, as she fell in love with the profession and was last year appointed the first female assistant commissioner.

Thompson, who is in charge of the parishes of Trelawny, St Ann, and Portland, said her appointment shows that women are capable of being effective leaders.

"Within these 40 years, I have seen it all. I have seen a lot," she declared.

"It's huge. I oversee the planning for all the members in that batch (parishes), which is over 300 personnel. I never thought that I would have wanted to be any further than where I started. I am only two more ranks from the top. I knew that it would be extremely difficult to break the ceiling," she told The Gleaner.

The assistant commissioner said that she was grateful for the in-depth training she has received over the years, noting that it has equipped her to be efficient and strategic.


She indicated also that the brigade has been forced to evolve, having to adapt to rapid technological advances, among other aspects of development.

"We have come a long way in terms of human resources. We have seen a lot of persons embark on their own personal development, acquiring degrees up to the master's level. The department itself has come a long way in terms of technology, not where we would have wanted it to be, but we now have a specialised unit," she said.

"Technology has been a big part of our training. Not to be forgotten is the number of women who have been enlisted in the service because when I joined in 1976, we did not join to fight fires at that particular time. It was further in our tenure we were trained in firefighting."


She bemoaned, too, the fact that resource constraints have been a major challenge over the years but said that she was committed to doing her best and putting the citizens of Jamaica first.

"Overall, every firefighter would like to know that when we go out there, the citizens are pleased with our performance. Sometimes, however, they are not because if you don't have the tools, it will take a longer time or the task will not be done as well," she lamented.

In the meantime, the learning doesn't stop for the female assistant commissioner as she shared that she was currently pursuing an associate degree in mortuary science, an area she is focused on going into in the future.