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Hot summer - Firemen insist on safety permits for parties

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
A section of the audience at Up To The Line party.

In preparation for the summer season and the anticipated increase in social and entertainment events across the island, Emilio Ebanks, public relations officer, Jamaica Fire Brigade, has reiterated that event planners and promoters of every public outing must be granted an all safety certificate.

"All public events must get this permit from the Jamaica Fire Brigade. That is the way to ensure the safety of the patrons and may even save the person putting on the event from a lawsuit," Ebanks told The Gleaner.

The certificate is granted after all precautionary measures as well as contingencies have been presented, and the venue itself assessed by an assigned safety monitor. When applying, persons are required to provide a letter containing the name of event, the starting and closing times, of the event, main contact persons and a contingency plan "which outlines in the event of an emergency, what will happen, who is in charge, the ambulance service and security providers," Ebanks told The Gleaner.

"On the contingency form, we request that information, and that, too, should be presented to the Ministry of Health," he continued. According to Ebanks, the Ministry of Health advises that an ambulance or health services and personnel are required in the staging of a public event, "but more often than not, the ministry is encouraging event planners to have an ambulance and health services on site," Ebanks said.

The application for the all safety certificate must also include a layout of the venue, clearly displaying all entrances and exits to the venue. Using the example of the National Arena's indoor space, Ebanks says, "When putting on events, the place is retrofitted to accommodate the style of the event, and because of security purposes, maybe they'll want to block off exits and want to have one entrance."

To prevent against event planners potentially endangering patrons, a safety monitor is deployed to assess the venue space, after receipt of the initial application, to help determine if the permit will indeed be granted. One safety monitor checks the venue before for safety requirements, to ensure that there will be no issues like overcrowding or encumbered exits.

"All exits must be clear and unobstructed, and all safety monitors must be there to guide persons out of the building in as little time as possible. The safety monitors will also start the initial firefighting process, if necessary," Ebanks told The Gleaner.

Additionally, the Jamaica Fire Brigade stipulates that there should be one safety monitor assigned to the event for every 250 persons. Ebanks told The Gleaner that after assessment and the all safety certificate is issued, it will stipulate the number of monitors necessary for the event.

"The application for that permit is a measly $6,000, which should not be a deterrent to anybody," he added.