MONTEGO BAY, St James — Warning that the city of Montego Bay is left vulnerable when firefighters are responding to fires outside the city limits, head of the St James division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade is appealing for at least two new substations to be built. These will supplement stations on Barnett Street in the town centre, Ironshore on its outskirts, and a fire boat docked at Freeport.
“It is quite a laborious, very arduous situation for us to travel from here to Maroon Town [about an hour away]. Sometimes we only have one fire unit operational within the township,” Acting Superintendent Rudolph Seaton told the Jamaica Observer.
“Sometimes when we travel to Maroon Town and those places then it means that we leave the entire township unprotected,” he added.
The recently constructed Barnett Street station is one of the largest and most modern in the Western Hemisphere. However, despite this improvement to the division, Seaton believes that stations within inland sections of the parish would go a far way to complement the already existing structures that are located along the coastline.
“If we could a get a substation in the Maroon Town area, then all of those communities in southern St James back into parts of St Elizabeth, that fire station could provide some coverage for that area,” he explained.
“Also if we could get a substation anywhere in the Cambridge/Bethel Town area, anywhere in that area there, then it would also provide coverage for parts of Hanover, St James and Westmoreland,” he added, stressing that the challenge with covering such a large geographical area is compound by the fact that some calls are “malicious false alarms”.
Seaton was speaking with the Observer on Monday at the start of Fire and Life Safety Week for 2022.
In providing an update on operations in St James, the fire chief spoke of efforts now under way to provide the Barnett Street station with an ambulance.
“It’s early days but what I can tell you is that there is a project being undertaken by the [St James] Municipal Corporation in partnership with the fire brigade for us to get an ambulance here through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA),” he remarked.
In terms of the activities planned to mark Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week, Seaton said there will be an open day at the Barnett Street station on Wednesday. There will also be a fire warden graduation ceremony on the same day.
Throughout the week there will also be drills and other related activities aimed at raising awareness about fire safety among members of the public.