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St Catherine prepares for natural disasters

Published:Thursday | January 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer

WITH SEVERE drought conditions set to affect the country this year, the St Catherine Fire Department is focusing on increasing its public-education campaign, even as limited resources continue to be a problem.

Assistant superintendent of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, St Catherine Division, James Lee, said the department is making strides in working with the public.

He was speaking with The Gleaner last Saturday during the St Catherine Disaster Emergency response Team Zone 4 church service, to mark the beginning of Earthquake Awareness Week.

The service was held at the Linstead Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Catherine.

"The matter of emergency has been looked at at all times by the fire brigade, but we recognise that educating the public is important, and so we are trying to meet the communities on a level where we can teach them how to help themselves if an emergency occurs," he said.

community fire safety

Lee added: "As a result, we came up with the community fire safety, where we teach persons to be safety monitors for their communities."

But despite the efforts of the department, he said enough is not being done to make the public more aware.

"I don't think we are reaching the public as we should, we have challenges and we are looking at those areas," he said.

Lee identified equipment as one of the things affecting the brigade's efforts to reach out to the public.

"These things we have made representation for, maybe they are not forthcoming as we would have hoped, but we are getting there, we are getting some of the things that we need to educate the public," he said.

Coordinator of the response team, Marilyn Bowie, said the team, which continues to work with the Linstead community, is in a state of readiness should a natural disaster occur.

"The committee is comprised of persons from all the different areas, such as factories, schools, police, fire department, and other areas. We also have persons with heavy-duty equipment working with, so that we can call on them if we have problems, so it is a wide cross section," she said.

The group also honoured one of its outstanding members, Godwin Bennett, for his exemplary service in emergency response in the area.