Tue | Oct 3, 2023

St Elizabeth farmers get equipment to fight fires

Published:Monday | May 11, 2020 | 10:58 AM
Farmers in Flagaman, St Elizabeth demonstrate how to douse a small fire using the new firefighting backpack pumps that were handed over by the Jamaica Fire Brigade on Thursday, May 7, 2020 – Contributed photo

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has donated two firefighting backpack pumps to the farming community of Flagaman, St Elizabeth, in a proactive step to suppress and control potential fire outbreaks on farmlands in the area.

The high-pressure portable items were handed over last Thursday following a tour of farms that were devastated by fire last August, affecting some 47 farmers, who suffered an estimated loss of $45 million.

Commissioner of the JFB, Stewart Beckford, who handed over the equipment, told JIS News that the portable pumps will quickly extinguish bush fires in the early stages, which is crucial to protecting the farmers and their properties.

He noted that other agencies, such as the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, were also instrumental in procuring the equipment for the farmers.

 “All fires start small, very few fires start large, and if we can have farmers properly equipped with backpacks to quickly get into action and put out these fires, then that’s a welcome initiative,” said Beckford.

He indicated that the donation also forms part of the Bush Fire Warning Index and Management System.

“Last year, we launched the Bush Fire Warning Index, where at each fire station a computer was assigned and data for bush fires was inputted into those computers, an analysis done and a prediction could be made as to where fires will occur in certain areas. So, this is what we are doing as a part of that initiative,” Beckford said.

In the meantime, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said the equipment is important to reduce the number of fires, as occurred last year.

The Government provided close to $50 million worth of relief supplies to those affected farmers.

Additionally, the farmers were given more than 30 truckloads of guinea grass to be used for mulching.

“Where you see small fires coming up, you should have the capacity to respond. So, the fact that they are now getting these items to respond is a really good move,” Green argued.

Secretary for the Flagaman’s Farmers Group, Veron Reynolds, said the equipment will prove helpful to the community and the farmers are grateful to the JFB.

“We are now better able to offer assistance in the event of any fire. We will be better able to attack the fire and start to apply the necessary control until the arrival of the JFB,” he added.

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