JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is pushing for amendments to the Country Fires Act (CFA), to among other things, increase the penalties for the illegal lighting of fires.
  • Assistant Commissioner of the JFB, Sean Martin, said that talks are being held with the Chief Legal Officer in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development on the matter.
  • Mr. Martin, who was speaking with JIS News at a Fire Safety Awareness Week symposium at the Spanish Court Hotel recently, noted that the fine of $2,000 or three months at hard labour, provided under the existing legislation, is outdated.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is pushing for amendments to the Country Fires Act (CFA), to among other things, increase the penalties for the illegal lighting of fires.

Assistant Commissioner of the JFB, Sean Martin, said that talks are being held with the Chief Legal Officer in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development on the matter.

Mr. Martin, who was speaking with JIS News at a Fire Safety Awareness Week symposium at the Spanish Court Hotel recently, noted that the fine of $2,000 or three months at hard labour, provided under the existing legislation, is outdated.

He argued that the sum is negligible, and does not discourage illegal burning, which has serious environmental, economic and health implications.

“We hope that the amendments will make prosecution easier and the fines heavier for those who light illegal fires, especially when it puts lives and communities at risk,” he said.

The Assistant Commissioner told JIS News that the JFB is also pushing for authority to issue fire permits as well as to have all fire-related laws under one statute.

The CFA falls under the jurisdiction of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), giving the police the authority to issue fire permits.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Commissioner said the JFB will be undertaking a public education campaign, aimed at effecting behavioural change as it regards illegal burning.

Mr. Martin said children will be targeted in the campaign, which will get underway soon.

He argued that citizens have become comfortable with burning garbage in their backyards, ignoring the fact that these habits can lead to serious health-related illneses such as asthma.

“JFB will go into schools and communities educating and sharing the information in the simplest form,” he said.

The JFB in observing Fire Safety Awareness Week from October 25 to 30, under the theme: ‘Learn not to Burn, Fire has Environmental Concerns’.

Activities for the week include: community walks, training, fire safety drills, information booth displays at fire stations islandwide, and school tours, from October 27 to 29.