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Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Fire Brigade will receive a boost to its fleet during this hurricane season, with the acquisition of three new fire trucks at a cost of $133 million.
  • Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Errol Mowatt, said the state-of-the-art units have already arrived in the island and are currently awaiting clearance.
  • Despite resource and equipment constraints, the Brigade is ready to provide rescue and emergency services for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season, which began on June 1.

All Systems Ready for Hurricane Season

The Jamaica Fire Brigade will receive a boost to its fleet during this hurricane season, with the acquisition of three new fire trucks at a cost of $133 million.

Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Errol Mowatt, said the state-of-the-art units have already arrived in the island and are currently awaiting clearance.

“We expect that in another couple of weeks, they should be ready for deployment,” he said.

Mr. Mowatt, who was addressing the annual National Disaster Committee meeting held at Jamaica House on June 18, said the trucks are fully equipped and specially designed to take on the country’s hilly terrain.

He further informed that the Brigade has already acquired the funds for three additional trucks, which should arrive in the island early next year.

The National Disaster Committee meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, was attended by representatives from several public and private sector organisations involved in disaster mitigation.

These included the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM); the National Works Agency (NWA); Ministries of Health; Local Government and Community Development; and Labour and Social Security; Jamaica Fire Brigade;  National Solid Waste and Management Authority (NSWMA); and National Meteorological Service.

In his report to the Committee, Mr. Mowatt said despite resource and equipment constraints, the Brigade is ready to provide rescue and emergency services for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane season, which began on June 1.

“What we have done is to emphasise the need for training, both on our own as well as with other entities, such as ODPEM, to make sure that we are able to respond and use the available resources to achieve the best possible result,” he informed.

He further noted that a number of units are undergoing repair and should be up and running by the end of this month.

In partnership with the United States Southern Command, the Fire Brigade has received additional search and rescue equipment. Mr. Mowatt noted that some of these have been pre-positioned in the town of Port Maria, St. Mary, due to its susceptibility to flooding.

The Deputy Commissioner said the Brigade is currently conducting inspections of all 33 fire stations islandwide to ensure they are fully equipped and that fire-fighters are able “to respond, whatever the emergency may be”.

“We believe, based on where we are now, that we should be able to maintain that state of readiness throughout the season and beyond,” he assured.

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a likely below normal hurricane season, with a total of eight to 13 named storms forecast.