'Unacceptable and dangerous' - Fire chief, mayor lament lack of resources in St James
There is much cause for concern in the St James Fire Department as reports have surfaced that one of the parish's two fire stations is now operating without the means to respond to fires and other emergencies.
At the recent monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation, Superintendent Dolphin Doeman, who heads the St James Fire Department, reported that the Ironshore Fire Station, which sits in the heart of the city's tourism belt, is now operating without a fire unit.
"As we speak, the Ironshore fire station is without a unit because we had to lend one to Trelawny, which doesn't have a working unit of their own at present," explained Doeman. "We also lost another unit in a major accident in August."
In highlighting the dire state of the fire service in St James, which is the epicentre of the nation's tourism, Doeman said the parish has only two working fire units at this time.
"So that is where we are at present in terms of our units. There are other units, but they have technical problems and are out for repairs," Doeman further explained.
However, in responding to the situation outlined by Doeman, chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation and mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis, described the situation as unacceptable, noting that a parish with a population of approximately 110,000 residents, along with the thousands of regular visitors, two fire trucks are woefully inadequate.
"I think it is unacceptable and the relevant authorities should see to it that we get back our truck from Trelawny, and they should find a truck to fit in Trelawny," said Davis. "Looking on Montego Bay, there are a lot of properties that are not compliant, and if they are not compliant, they are a fire risk, so I don't think St James cannot operate on just two fire trucks."
In fact, Davis stated that going forward, he will be appealing to the relevant authority to make more fire units available to the parish.
"It is a situation that really affects us all. We need at least five fire trucks for our parish to deal with the responses," said Davis. "We cannot have two fire trucks operating in St James. It is unacceptable and it is dangerous."