Rehabilitation work on the Trench Town Fire Station in Kingston, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Government at a cost of just over $2 million, has been completed.
The station was closed earlier this year to facilitate reconstruction of the roof, after it was discovered that the original canopy was built from material containing asbestos, deemed a major health risk.
Medical analyses show that prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can result in scarring of the lungs, leading to a complication known as asbestosis, and lung cancer.
The services of the firm, Nocthline Traders Limited, were contracted to carry out the project, which was undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry’s Technical Services team; the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB); private sector stakeholders; and residents of the neighbouring communities.
The scope of works included: removal, transportation and disposal of asbestos roofing tiles; vacuuming of existing timber frames to control remaining asbestos particles from becoming airborne; installation of new roofing material; re-painting of the station’s building; and minor electrical and plumbing work.
The station wasofficially reopened during a rededication ceremony at the station’s Spanish Town Road base on Wednesday (December 19).
Speaking at the ceremony, State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, said the Government moved swiftly to rectify the problem with the station’s roof, once the challenge it posed for the firefighters became apparent.
“I am dedicated to ensuring the welfare of our firefighters and the care and upkeep of our firefighting facilities…and (I am) pleased that the Ministry was able to play an integral role in the completion of this project,” he said.
Mr. Fagan pointed out that the station, which was built in 1953, is among a number of Government buildings constructed during an era when little was known about the health risks associated with asbestos.
“Additionally, it was said to be the most economical construction material at the time. And so, it will come as no surprise that some of our institutional buildings were constructed with material containing asbestos which, we now come to know, poses real health risks when it begins to deteriorate,” he said.
The State Minister noted that while there was no delay in addressing the situation at the station, it took some time to identify and acquire the services of a contractor with the requisite expertise to undertake the project.
The work, which commenced in August with the removal of the original roof, was completed within the last few weeks.
“The delay in opening the Trench Town Fire Station was due to the fact that the scope of work was expanded to address other issues which made the working environment of the fire fighters less than desirable.
“Today, as a result of collaborative efforts, these officers will no longer have to live with defective windows, panels, outdated electrical and plumbing facilities and dilapidated floors and ceilings. But they can move about in a safe building and comfortable surroundings,” he said.
Mr. Fagan expressed satisfaction with corporate Jamaica's response to the project and their realization of the vital service which firefighters provide the nation. This, he said, was evidenced by the firm, Quality Dealers Roofing’s contribution of material, valued $500,000. The entity’s roofing specialist, Gregory Cato, also assisted with the installation works, which yielded significant savings.
“I am heartened by this kind of collaborative effort. This kind of partnership augurs well for local government and local government reform. It also signals that our efforts in re-shaping and revitalising governance at the local level have not been in vain,” Mr. Fagan said.
In his remarks, JFB Commissioner, Laurie Williams, welcomed the completion of remedial works on the facility. Similar sentiments were also expressed by Opposition Spokesperson on Local Government, Desmond McKenzie, and Councillor for the Trench Town Division, Neville Wright.