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JIS News

The Hanover division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has had to deal with an over 300 per cent increase in fires January-May this year, compared to the similar period last year.
According to Superintendent in charge of the division, Paul Hibbert, the dramatic increase was due to the amount of bush fires occurring in the parish in the first four months of the year.
He said that the drought-like conditions that existed throughout the parish during the period made matters worse.
Superintendent Hibbert pointed out that the division responded to 43 genuine calls in January, 36 in February, 26 in March, 13 in April and 15 in May, making a total of 133 for the period January-May, 2008.
For 2009, the figures were: 74 in January; 90 in February; 168 in March; 74 in April; and 24 in May, making a total of 430.
There have been only two casualties, however, as a result of fires in the parish for the past two years: One adult died in 2008, and one child in 2009. Twenty-one persons were left homeless as a direct result of fires in 2008, while for the same period in 2009, 29 persons were left homeless.
The Superintendent told JIS News that, despite limited resources, the firemen were able to keep property loss, as a direct result of fires in the parish, at a minimal level. An estimated $1.73 million in property loss suffered in 2009, compared favourably with the $8.95 million in losses suffered in 2008.
He explained that to combat the problem of limited resources in the division, a programme has been initiated wherein community members, in various districts, are trained by fire department personnel to be first responders when there is a fire in their district.
“What we are doing now is to go into the different communities and have persons trained as fire wardens, who will act as first aid responders until the fire brigade gets there,” he stated.
He said that the response to the programme has been overwhelming, with residents of various districts very eager to become involved.
Mr. Hibbert asked farmers and other community members to desist from burning refuse and other vegetation without supervision, as this has led to bush fires, in many cases.