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Story Highlights

  • Representatives from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development are to meet with the top brass of the JFB.
  • The JFB is taking steps internally to deal with other issues which arose from a report on the fire service tabled in the House of Parliament recently.
  • The Performance Audit Report, undertaken by the Auditor General Department, revealed a number of shortcomings, which are affecting the ability of the JFB to perform effectively.

Representatives from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development are to meet on Wednesday, July 9, with the top brass of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB), to address some of the issues, which arose from a report on the fire service tabled in the House of Parliament recently.

This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, while responding to questions at the Jamaica House Press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston.

“We have a meeting scheduled for today to see precisely the emergency needs of the fire service and what we can do to alleviate them,” he said.

He noted that the JFB is taking steps internally to deal with other issues which arose from the report.

The Performance Audit Report, undertaken by the Auditor General Department, revealed a number of shortcomings, which are affecting the ability of the JFB to perform effectively.

Minister Arscott conceded that the brigade is not operating “at an optimum level”, but noted that the Government is making the improvements, bearing in mind the current economic climate.

He noted that millions of dollars have been spent to retrofit and upgrade several fire stations across the island. “We are actively doing work to upgrade and we are going to create a station in Westmoreland in the hills,” he said.

Regarding the lack of fire boats to carry out emergency rescue operations, Minister Arscott said the administration is undertaking evaluations to see where these can be procured.

“We have some Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in place with the Port Authority of Jamaica to utilise what they have and I am sure once the funds become available or we can find a generous donor, we will be happy to receive a fire boat,” he said.

As it relates to working trucks, Mr. Arscott informed that while a number of units are currently down, they are expected to be up and running within short order.

“Three new units are here and should be in commission this week and we are looking at alternative ways how we can quickly procure additional units from overseas to help us to get the fire brigade where it ought to be,” he said.

Minister Arscott also informed that the United States Southern Command has donated some equipment to the fire service.

The Minister commended the men and women of the service for their hard work and dedication.

Turning to the recent spate of fires across the island, Mr. Arscott appealed to Jamaicans to desist from lighting fires especially given the drought conditions facing the country.

“It is the dry season now and the place is tinder dry, and any spark can create a major fire,” he pointed out.

The Auditor General Department report sought to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of JFB’s fire prevention; fire fighting; rescue and emergency medical services.