Ruddy Mathison, Gleaner Writer
THE JAMAICA Fire Brigade is uncertain whether its present complement of fire stations islandwide is adequate to deliver the services necessary as Jamaica looks to become a developed state by 2030.
Speaking with The Gleaner last Friday during the open-day parade to mark the culmination of activities for the 140th anniversary of the Fire Brigade, Samuel McIntosh, assistant commissioner for fire prevention and public relations, said even though the service they deliver has evolved over the years, there is still a lot to be done.
"If we look at the resources we have out there, if we look at other things such as training, we need to do a lot more and I think even though we have evolved from hand-drawn pumps to horses to what we have presently, there is still a lot more needed to be done to get us where we want to go," he said at the parade, which was held in Water Square, Falmouth.
Citing financial constraints and the island's terrain as some of the major challenges, the assistant commissioner said manpower and transportation are needed as the country moves forward.
"In order to really be a part of the 2030 vision of having Jamaica as a developed state, I do not know if we could say that the 33 fire stations is where we would want to be in 2030," McIntosh continued.
Using the parish of Trelawny as an example, he said with only one fire station serving the districts, the fire brigade has to find ways of facing the challenges, suggesting methods such as voluntary fire fighters, community involvement and a public-education programme as possible approaches.
The open-day parade saw a wide display of drill exhibitions and mock rescue operations, among other things.
Mayor of Falmouth Garth Wilkinson, who deputised for Custos Paul Muschett, declared the function open and inspected the guard of honour mounted by a combined contingent of fire fighters drawn from stations islandwide.
Councillor for the Martha Brae division, Phillip Service, represented the member of parliament, Patrick Atkinson. A number of schools in the parish also participated in the exercise.