Fire Brigade Reports Success from Community Education Programme

Photo: Mark Bell Senior Deputy Superintendent at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Emeleo Ebanks (right), provides an update on the Community Bush Fire Management Education Programme during a recent JIS Think Tank. Looking on is Assistant Commissioner JFB, Sean Martin.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is reporting success in its Community Bush Fire Management Education Programme, which was launched in 2015 following a series of devastating fires that affected farms.
  • Addressing a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday (October 18), Senior Deputy Superintendent at the JFB, Emilio Ebanks, said that the fires, which occurred in Mavis Bank, St. Andrew and Nain, St. Elizabeth, resulted in millions of dollars in losses to farmers.
  • Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of the JFB, Sean Martin, who also addressed the Think Tank, is again imploring farmers to desist from using the slash and burn method to clear land.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is reporting success in its Community Bush Fire Management Education Programme, which was launched in 2015 following a series of devastating fires that affected farms.

Addressing a JIS Think Tank on Tuesday (October 18), Senior Deputy Superintendent at the JFB, Emilio Ebanks, said that the fires, which occurred in Mavis Bank, St. Andrew and Nain, St. Elizabeth, resulted in millions of dollars in losses to farmers.

He said several communities in the affected areas participated in a three-month pilot programme, which was sponsored by the British High Commission at a cost of 7,000 pounds.

It included training of residents and the design and implementation of fire-safety programmes that will encourage maximum community participation.

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has provided $1.8 million to extend the initiative across all parishes.

“We are seeing that the training is bearing fruit. In Mavis Bank, where fires destroyed acres of farmland last year, we have not had a single incident of fire since the programme was implemented,”

Mr. Ebanks said. He noted that one of the features of the training programme is that the community members, having seen first-hand the devastation caused by the fires, have come on board.

He related that in one case, a community member, who is designated a Fire and Life Safety Warden, was leaving the island and he called in to say who would be acting on his behalf.

“What we are seeing is that community members are now integrally involved. They are going to each other and reminding them of the dos and don’ts and making sure that in as much as is possible they do not engage in practices that can lead to fires,” Mr. Ebanks said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner of the JFB, Sean Martin, who also addressed the Think Tank, is again imploring farmers to desist from using the slash and burn method to clear land.

“It destroys the moisture, the nutrients and over time, it also leads to land slippage. When you burn, the top soil is loosened so when it rains this can cause flooding,” he said.

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