Fire officer discourages burning in dry season
Fire service personnel in St Elizabeth are urging residents of the parish to follow simple steps to prevent numerous bush fires during the dry spell.
"We are not encouraging any burning, whether to clear fields or garbage," said District Officer Omar Simms of the Santa Cruz Fire Station.
Simms noted it was harvesting time for cane, but said there were ways to limit the fire's potential to spread.
"You must dig a firebreak 14 to 15 feet wide around the perimeter of the area," he said. "Try and burn in small patches. Some farmers try to burn three or four fields at once and then the fire gets out of hand."
He also suggested they do their burning early in the morning. When burning garbage, he recommended digging a hole for the refuse and burning it in there.
Simms noted the station has had to out a few bush and cane fires for the year.
"Recently, we got a call at 8 p.m., another early as 4 a.m. Some days, we would be out on the road already," he said. Simms was certain the number of cases would increase as the dry spell continued. A perennial lack of resources continues to hamper the fire service. The breadbasket parish only has two other fire stations, Junction and the headquarters in Black River.
Also hampering their efforts is the continued practice of prank calls, saying they can't determine if it's a prank until they get out there.
"And some people don't know the direct numbers for the stations or give any details when they call."
Contact numbers for St Bess fire stations
Black River - 965-2222
Junction - 965-8622
Santa Cruz - 966-2302/847-6890