JIS News
Public Relations Officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Emilio Ebanks.
Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Jamaicans are being encouraged to desist from open burning of garbage and other debris as they engage in clean-up and beautification activities for the Christmas season.

Speaking in a recent JIS News interview, Public Relations Officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), Emilio Ebanks, said that persons can be charged for open burning under the Country Fires Act.

“Open flames without a permit to burn is illegal, so a person can be charged for doing so,” he said.

“I want to remind each citizen that these open flames, regardless of how much control they think they have, can lead to loss of lives and property,” he added.

Mr. Ebanks noted that the fumes and particles from openly burned materials are hazardous to the health of persons once inhaled.

“Now is not the time to be aggravating your respiratory tract given the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19),” he pointed out.

“There are safer alternatives to disposing of waste rather than burning. In St. Elizabeth where I grew up, many persons practise composting as a means of waste management. The mulch generated from these compost heaps are then used as fertilisers for crops,” he said further.

Mr. Ebanks said that farmers should also desist from slashing and burning shrubs because these fires not only diminish the quality of the soil but can lead to widespread destruction.

He noted that JFB and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) have been visiting communities and informing persons about the benefits of composting and the dangers of open fires.

He advised that for waste items that cannot be used as compost, persons should contact the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) for proper disposal.

Under the Country Fires Act, persons who intend to set fire to trash on any land, must give seven days prior notice to the officer or sub-officer in charge of the nearest police station and the occupiers of all adjoining lands within a half-mile radius.

Persons are also required to clear open space of at least 15 feet in width around the material to be burnt and remove all inflammable material.

Night fires are also illegal under the Act. Any person who sets fire to any trash between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., unattended, can be charged with a criminal offence.

Similarly, anyone who leaves any fire he may have lit or used in the open air unattended, before it is thoroughly extinguished, is also guilty of a breach.

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