JIS News

With an average of 12,000 fires occurring per year across the island, Jamaicans are being urged to exercise caution during this festive season to avoid the occurrence of fires.
Although fires occur throughout the year, Assistant Superintendent at the Fire Prevention Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Floyd McLean, informed JIS News that there is a noticeable trend for the frequency to escalate during December, particularly house fires.
Statistics from the Jamaica Fire Brigade show that in January of 2004 a total of 880 fires were reported, while in December 2004 the number increased to 2,155. The total losses incurred due to fires for that entire year, were estimated at $3.1 billion.
According to Assistant Superintendent McLean, “what accounts for the build up of fires during December, is that persons [are] not doing the things that they should do with due care at this time.” He lists falling asleep while baking, using flammable decorations on Christmas trees and improper burning of rubbish as factors that often lead to fires during the holidays.
Mr. McLean also notes that the increased demand on power supplies in households and offices, coupled with the excessive use of extension cords and the bridging of power lines to operate sound systems heightened the risk of fires.
He insisted that disasters of this nature could be prevented if greater care was exercised as activities are carried out.
He therefore recommended that persons consider the following fire prevention measures as they prepare for and enjoy this season’s celebrations:
. Avoid handling the stove while tired or in a hurry.. Place lamps and candles away from flammable objects.. Avoid using firecrackers, which are both illegal and hazardous.. Avoid using flammable decorative items on Christmas trees.. Do not burn rubbish in open spaces or in large portions. Do not leave open flames unsupervised.. Never leave minors unsupervised around fire hazards, e.g. outdoor grilles.. Teach children how to handle fire responsibly.. Unplug office appliances and equipment before leaving them for long periods of time.
Emphasising the responsibility of adults in fire prevention, Assistant Superintendent McLean said, “the job of an adult is to be able to identify fire hazards and eliminate them. If we can do that then our job in preventing fires is 95 per cent done.”