Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
The drought conditions affecting the island are putting a strain on Jamaica's fire department as there is an increase in the number of fire incidents occurring with limited water supply to put out the blazes.
As a result, Emilio Ebanks, the Jamaica Fire Brigade spokesperson, said persons should make every effort to prevent the starting of a fire in order to lessen the challenges being faced by the fire stations.
"We are getting an increased number of calls, but with the dry season the water pressure in the fire hydrants is not as reliable as it used to be, so it does pose a problem for us," Ebanks told The Gleaner.
He said special care must be taken as the drought season started earlier than usual due to limited rainfall in December.
"We have to make sure we know where the alternative water supply can be found, such as rivers, streams, anything at all. We have to know where those can be found."
He added: "We also have to ensure that we go out and push the message even more of prevention because that is the key in these situations, preventing the fire than having to fight it."
In addition to the low water supply, Ebanks said the fire department is not at its best as only 64 per cent of the close to 1,400 hydrants islandwide are up and running.
"The word of advice to persons is prevention." Ebanks said.
"A smoker, for example, make sure you put out that cigarette before you dispose of it, and do not dispose of it in any trash can or anywhere that can start a fire," Ebanks said.
He added: "For persons who may be facing a problem with garbage collection, burning is not an alternative, especially in a time like this when it is dry and windy. Most importantly, we must be our brother's keeper in a time like this because your action, may not impact you directly but it may impact the lives of loved ones, neighbours, etc. We all have a duty to play in times like this."
Corporate communications manager at the National Water Commission (NWC), Charles Buchanan, had also informed The Gleaner last week that the drought season had presented some serious challenges in its systems. Buchanan said while its storage facilities at some of its 460 systems across the island were at a good level, there were others that have been badly affected by low levels of water.
He, however, sought to reassure the country that the NWC is doing its best to limit the negative impact.