The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) says that the Bush Fire Warning Index is helping to improve the response of firefighters to bush fires across the island.
The Bush Fire Warning Index and Management System was developed by the Meteorological Service of Jamaica and launched last year to assist the JFB and other stakeholders to better determine the parts of the island where bush fires are likely to occur and act accordingly.
“That programme has been going well so far,” said Public Relations Officer and Officer in Charge of the Fire Prevention Division at the JFB, Emeleo Ebanks at a recent JIS Think Tank.
He said that the Index assists the JFB in deciding which communities to dispatch its prevention team to reduce instances or situations that can lead to fires.
“There are certain parishes that statistics have shown us tend to have more bush fires. When we look at the farming areas for example, St. Elizabeth will jump out at us. In later years, we have seen St. Catherine going really high and St. Ann. When we look at St. Andrew, we are looking at upper rural St. Andrew going into St. Thomas. Those are the main areas that we normally have a number of bush fires,” he noted.
Mr. Ebanks informed that the Index has been installed on computers at fire stations all over the island, where fire-related data is inputted from each station and weather and climate-related information is uploaded from the Meteorological Service. Monitoring of the system is done at the JFB headquarters.
Mr. Ebanks said that the Index will enable the JFB to make better use of the resources at its disposal.
“We will be able to place units in certain places and we will place tankers in certain places that didn’t have tankers before to ensure that the water supply is greater. It will also assist in guiding our hydrant maintenance programme to ensure that the fire hydrants in certain places, as much as possible, are in optimum working condition,” he noted.
During the period January to September 2020, the JFB recorded a 9.4 per cent increase in bush fires, with 5, 922 incidents up from 5,413 for the corresponding period in 2019.
This has been attributed to the extended dry season, which resulted in the JFB responding to a high number of bush fires between January and June of this year.
The JFB is observing Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week from October 25-31.