Wed | Dec 8, 2021

No plans afoot for fire substation in Bethel Town

Published:Friday | July 31, 2020 | 12:12 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

While it understands the need and continuous calls from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) for a fire substation to be established in Bethel Town, the Jamaica Fire Brigade says it is not one of the projects being pursued at this time.

“Remember now, this is not a project that is driven from the minister’s (Desmond McKenzie) desk. If it was a project drive from the minister’s desk, then we would have had a provision for the additional firefighters to be trained,” said Floyd McLean, assistant commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Area Four.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Area Four covers the parishes of St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.

“It’s not that the central government is not interested in getting substations built, but we have to move according to what the budget is,” he said.

According to McLean, even if the brigade were to respond to the proposal from the citizens and the wider Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, it would require capital which the Government does not have at this time to either build out or to retrofit the proposed site at the Bethel Town Police Station.

“I know of the proposed project. I went on the spot at the Bethel Town Police Station; the building to house the firefighters is not there. Even if we are going to the police station, there would need to be a certain level of retrofitting or reconstruction in terms of the area where the firefighters will be staying, to include the space where the fire trucks would be staying,” McLean told The Gleaner on Wednesday.

Apart from the infrastructural issues, McLean said the Jamaica Fire Brigade is short on human resources, so considering a substation without adequate funding will further deplete the workforce and its equipment.

“We have people in training, but they are not new people who will be able to cover new stations. These are individuals who will replace those who have left for various reasons, to include retirement,” he said.

CALL FOR SUPPORT

The Gleaner reported last month that Deputy Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar and councillor for the Bethel Town division, Danree Delancy, urged his colleagues to support his call to put pressure on the Ministry of Local Government in his bid to get a substation of the parish’s fire department established in the Bethel Town community, and that he is not receiving adequate support from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.

“We need a fire substation in Bethel Town. I don’t think I am getting enough support from the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation in that regard,” said Delancy then. “I am asking for support from the WMC to put more pressure on the central government so that this much-needed facility can come into being. We cannot delay anymore; delay is danger. Rome is burning, Your Worship. Bethel Town and its environs are burning.”