The capacity of the St. James Fire Department to respond to a fire at sea has been significantly boosted, with the official opening of the Montego Bay Fireboat station and the handover of a fireboat on Friday (December 28).
The new fireboat station, which will house 34 firefighters, is the second such station to be constructed in Jamaica and was built at a cost of $14 million.
In addition, two fire units valued at US$1.1 million were also handed over to the Jamaica Fire Brigade. This brings to six the total number of fire trucks added to the Brigade’s fleet since the start of the 2018-2019 financial year.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie officially opened the fireboat station and handed over the two new units and fireboat, during a ceremony held at Freeport in St. James on December 28.
In his remarks, McKenzie reiterated the Government’s commitment to strengthening the services of the fire brigade.
He informed that the government will provide additional equipment to the Jamaica Fire Brigade in the upcoming 2019-2020 financial year. This will include two fireboats for St. Ann and Portland and 10 additional fire trucks.
“We’re anticipating that by the end of the 2020 financial year going into 2021, the Jamaica Fire Brigade would be in a position where every fire station in the country will have a working fire unit,” McKenzie stated.
He further noted that the Brigade will receive an additional 600 bunker gears, which he said “will bring the count closer to the requisite amount that is needed by the men and women in the execution of their responsibility.”
Meanwhile McKenzie informed that the Government has been working to improve the condition of fire stations across the island.
He noted that work is already underway to construct a “make shift” residential facility at the May Pen fire station in Clarendon, which will house female firefighters on completion.
The Local Government and Community Development Minister also announced that the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has earmarked $8.4 million to carry out repair work on the Negril fire station in Westmoreland. Work is set to commence in 2019.
For his part, Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Stewart Beckford expressed his appreciation for the new fireboat station and emergency units, noting that they will go a far way in enhancing the brigade’s response capabilities.