Sun | Aug 1, 2021

Westmoreland stakeholders want additional fire stations, better roads

Published:Tuesday | December 15, 2020 | 12:14 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Bertel Moore, mayor of Savanna-la-Mar.
Bertel Moore, mayor of Savanna-la-Mar.

WESTERN BUREAU:

SAVANNA-LA-MAR MAYOR Bertel Moore and Westmoreland’s Custos Reverend Hartley Perrin have both joined the call for an additional fire station to service the hilly terrains of Westmoreland Eastern alongside an upgrading of the road networks, which would give easier access to emergency vehicles and citizens.

“Westmoreland needs to have more fire trucks and more fire stations. When you look at the Bethel Town area, for which we are fighting vigorously to get a sub-station, there is a definite need for such a station in the parish,” said Moore, who is also the chairman of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC).

According to Moore, the two fire stations located in Savanna-la-Mar and Negril are not adequate to serve the parish, which is putting the job of firefighters in great jeopardy whenever there is an emergency in the parish.

More fire stations Needed

“We definitely need additional fire stations in the parish. Those we have are not good enough. It makes the work of firefighters and emergency technicians much harder,” added Moore, who was speaking at a recent ceremony to honour firefighters in the western parish.

Custos Perrin, who was also at the honouring ceremony, fully endorsed the mayor’s call for an additional fire station and better roads.

“I join with Mayor Moore in his appeal and demand an additional fire station particularly in the hills of Westmoreland,” said Perrin, who noted that the road conditions leading into the hills of Darliston are in a deplorable condition and serve as a nuisance to firefighters and other commercial vehicles. “With those horseshoe corners and the poor surface of the road, the amount of time it takes to get there is unbearable. I’ll be damned to imagine why after all these years, those horseshoe corners are still up there.”

“I would want somebody to tell me why it is that those corners can’t be taken out after so many years. Now, we have long trucks that have to be negotiating their way to Darliston. There is land there. All it wants is a powerful tractor to grade it down and widen the road,” added Perrin.

For years, the WMC has been pleading with the local government ministry, without success, for a substation in Bethel Town to serve the eastern part of the parish.

Floyd McLean, the assistant commissioner of the fire brigade in charge of Area Four (St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Hanover, and St James) told The Gleaner in July that while there is a need for subfire stations in Westmoreland, based on the geographical landscape budgetary constraints, it would be difficult.

“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 McLean.“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.”