Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Extinguishing the flames

Published:Tuesday | October 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Errol Mowatt

Every year about this time (October), the Jamaica Fire Brigade observes its Fire Safety Awareness Week to highlight the efforts of the Brigade to reduce the incidence of fire, and consequently, loss of life and property. This year, the theme for the week is 'Communities in Action ... Supporting Fire Prevention', which is quite fitting, as it reflects the reality that fire prevention requires the efforts of all of us in the society. The truth be told, in Jamaica, we are far too indiscriminate in how we use open flame. We burn everywhere and everything, with no regard for weather or climatic conditions or the levels of risks around us.

It is this thoughtless approach that resulted in the Brigade receiving 1,982 bush fire calls in one month (July 2014) alone. It is the same slash and burn practice that caused hundreds of hectares of cultivation and countless heads of cattle to be consumed by raging fires every year in southern St Elizabeth and elsewhere in the country.

These fires are seriously hurting our farmers economically, as well as our country as a whole. This is why the Jamaica Fire Brigade stages Fire Safety Awareness Week every year, in the month of October. It is a period in which we heighten our public education programme, with the hope that the range of activities will sufficiently attract the attention of every individual, every community and every business as we seek support to reduce the outbreaks of destructive fires.

I am, therefore, taking this opportunity to invite all Jamaicans to join the Fire Brigade throughout the week of activity, whether in church halls, schools, communities, business places or simply in the streets as we bring this message of safety to you.

It is our hope that as the fire-prevention message is taken to every nook and cranny of Jamaica by our dedicated firefighters, it will find resonance with a public ready to do its part in stemming the tide of the outbreak of fires and assist the Brigade in 'saving lives and protecting property'.

Errol Mowatt

Commissioner

Jamaica Fire Brigade