JFB Proposes Legislation to Inspect Private Dwellings

Photo: Garwin Davis Senior Deputy Superintendent and Public Relations Officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Emilio Ebanks, speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on December 6, at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office in St. James.

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is proposing legislation to give the agency authority to inspect and ensure that private dwellings are subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as public buildings.
  • Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay on December 6, the JFB’s Senior Deputy Superintendent and Public Relations Officer, Emilio Ebanks, noted that there are too many homes being built without proper escape routes, putting the occupants at risk in the event of a fire.
  • Mr. Ebanks urged persons who are putting up private houses to get the required information from the JFB, noting that “we are always available to assist in any way we can”.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is proposing legislation to give the agency authority to inspect and ensure that private dwellings are subjected to the same kind of scrutiny as public buildings.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay on December 6, the JFB’s Senior Deputy Superintendent and Public Relations Officer, Emilio Ebanks, noted that there are too many homes being built without proper escape routes, putting the occupants at risk in the event of a fire.

He pointed out that the existing legislation only allows for inspection of public buildings and that the JFB is literally powerless to do anything as it relates to private homes.

“Over 90 per cent of the fires that people die from are actually residential fires. In most cases, these deaths could have been avoided, so we are actually looking to move legislation where we can have that kind of authority to go in and stop a situation or to give guidance on building codes and best practices,” he added.

Mr. Ebanks urged persons who are putting up private houses to get the required information from the JFB, noting that “we are always available to assist in any way we can”.

“In some parishes, I know individuals who will submit their building plans to us and where our plan review department will go through and ensure they are on the right track. This is our official department that approves plans for public buildings,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ebanks said there are certain basic safety tips that all homeowners should be aware of, and that many lives could have been saved if persons had paid attention to some of the JFB public bulletins.

“Knowing what to do if there is a fire in your home is critical to survival. To ensure that family members respond rationally during an actual emergency, an emergency evacuation plan should be in place. This predetermined plan needs to be developed and implemented, ensuring that all family members are aware of the details,” he said.

Mr. Ebanks said the escape exercise should be practised at least twice per year and that a meeting place outside the home should be identified to account for family members.

He emphasised that once a smoke alarm goes off, everyone should evacuate immediately and go to the designated meeting place.

“Call the fire department from outside, and never go back inside a burning building,” Mr. Ebanks advised.

JIS Social