Thu | Feb 27, 2020

St James fireboat investigations in limbo

Published:Tuesday | August 27, 2019 | 12:24 AMChristopher Thomas

WESTERN BUREAU:

There remains no clear statement from the top brass of the St James Fire Department despite promises of a swift investigation into the circumstances that led to major damage to a fireboat that was handed over two months ago.

The Gleaner yesterday spoke to Superintendent Dolfin Doeman, head of the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s (JFB) Area Four division, which includes the St James Fire Department. He stated that to date, he has not been updated on the progress of the investigation.

“I am not privy to that information … . I have not been updated on any findings,” said Doeman.

“I know that the boat has been repaired, but as to the cause of the damage, I am not sure they have identified what was the cause.”

While he is head of the Area Four division, it would appear that Doeman has no jurisdiction over the investigation, which will ultimately impact his department.

“Investigations would have been carried out by the fleet-management division of the brigade. That is what I am assuming – that the investigation is ongoing,” said Doeman.

In June, Doeman revealed to the monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation that investigations had begun in order to determine the cause of the damage to the fireboat’s engine. The damage had occurred some time in April, four months after the boat was handed over to the St James Fire Department by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie.

IMPACTED FOR YEARS

The fireboat was given to the department to replace a previous fireboat that was damaged in 2008 after being blown away by heavy winds on to rocks along the Montego Bay coastline. The loss of that boat hindered the department’s ability to fight fires on the seas surrounding Montego Bay and other coastal towns for several years.

When the St James Fire Department was given the new boat, it brought much relief to stakeholders, especially persons involved in the cruise shipping business, who were constantly wary that the city could find itself in an embarrassing situation should there be an emergency requiring a fireboat.

Doeman has made it clear that he wants the fireboat to be in tip-top shape at all times as he considers it an integral part of his firefighting fleet.

A new fire station, which is being constructed at a cost of J$534 million, is currently being built on Barnett Street in downtown Montego Bay. It is expected to serve the 200,000 residents of the city and its environs. It will replace a fire station that fell into disrepair in 2006 and was closed.