JIS News

The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is encouraging persons to practise alternatives to burning when clearing land and disposing of the brush generated.

This call comes as the Brigade is again seeing an increase in bushfires across the island.

“We really have to again implore Jamaicans, especially those who are lighting fires to clear farmland, to desist from doing this,” JFB Public Relations Officer, Emeleo Ebanks, told JIS News.

“We really ask that the communities, the farmers groups, everybody, just desist from this practice. It is not good for any of us,” he emphasised.

Jamaica has seen an increase in bushfires annually since 2016, with a total of 6,127 recorded in 2020. The figure for the first six months of 2021 is 2,901, which indicates that the yearly increase in bushfires could continue.

Mr. Ebanks noted that during prolonged dry periods the number of bushfires tends to increase.

Bushfires can be started by the spark from outdoor cooking or from a lit cigarette being tossed out,  However, most are caused by the lighting of fires to burn garbage or clear land.

As such, the JFB has been working with agencies like the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), to find alternatives to burning.

“RADA has been there to show them (farmers) how to create composts, how to use the same refuse that they would have cleared from the land for mulch,” shared Mr. Ebanks.

“Also, you might be clearing some sticks from your land, for example, and another farmer in another area would require these sticks for the planting of yam. It is about going out there and assisting in creating these linkages and showing persons alternatives to burning things they would normally burn,” he added.

The JFB has been engaging community-based organisations, as well, in an effort to make persons aware of the alternatives to burning.

Under the programme for the development of the Bush Fire Warning Index and Management System, the JFB has received backpack pumps and a skid unit from the Meteorological Service Division to aid in putting out bushfires in areas where it may be difficult for a fire truck to access.

The equipment supports the community response to bushfires.

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