Hanover Fire Department undertakes community hydrant-restoration project
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
WESTERN BUREAU:The Fire Prevention Unit of the Hanover Fire Department has embarked on a series of workshops within communities in the parish aimed at the restoration of fire hydrants.
The first workshop in the series was held recently in the community of Bigwell Lane in Lucea, the parish capital. According to fire chief Superintendent Rudolph Seaton, the project, which is titled 'Fire Hydrants Improvement Project', is part of an islandwide initiative of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), which was made possible through funding from the government of Japan.
"The JFB received funding from the Japanese. This will be used for the restoration of hydrants across Jamaica. It will be a community-based project. What the JFB will be doing at the parish level is identifying communities where we have hydrants, we will be going into those communities and will be training community groups. We are trying to see if we can get 20 persons for each group, and we will be training these persons to properly care for the hydrants," Seaton said.
"There are persons in many areas who, from time to time, remove the (hydrant's) blank cap and they will put paper or stone or other debris in there, which block the hydrant. And of course, there are persons who park next to the hydrant, or they will throw things in the area and block the hydrant," he added.
District Officer Courtney Nembhard, of the Fire Prevention Unit, told Western Focus that the training within the Bigwell Lane community was well attended by the men who live there. They turned out in large numbers to clean and paint their community's hydrant.
"We trained 21 persons and the response was absolutely great. The training was held right in the streets of Bigwell, and, out of this, we will be doing what we call the Community Safety Monitor Training, and they are really excited," Nembhard said.
"The importance of protecting the hydrant is a part of home safety," he said. "Also, so that we can have an adequate source of water supply in case of a fire. It is very important because quick access to water is everything. We have a limited amount of water in the trucks so a hydrant in good order would give us access to unlimited amount."
Nembhard said most of the community members were unaware that the hydrant was in working order and only needed to be cleaned and maintained.
"The hydrant we restored in Big Well - they had dumped a lot of earth around it and, on the workday, we had that removed ... a lot of refuse had surrounded the hydrant, so the programme that we had sensitised them as to the importance of the hydrant and how critical it is to keep it in good working condition for firefighting purposes," he explained.
"They knew the purpose of the hydrant but they thought that one was not working based on information that we got from community members. One lady said she has been living in the community since 1968 and she has never seen that hydrant work," Nembhard said.