With the absence of a fireboat, shortage of protective gear, limited personnel and the absence of a refilling plant breathing apparatus the St. James Fire Department is having a difficulty meeting its obligations.
Serving a population of just over 184,854 in St. James, the Fire Department continues operate with a meager contingent of just 174 personnel. In addition, only eight of 13 fire-fighting unit are in working condition.
With their proposed new home at Barnett Street still an empty lot, and its other locations below par frustration and discomfort is arguably the primary features facing the parish’s firefighters.
“We are really having some challenges,” said a despondent Dolfin Doeman, the acting superintendent in charge of the St. James Fire Department.
“We just have to looked at each problem and work through it”.
As it relates to the shortage of staff, “what we have had to do is to rotate staff, giving persons additional hours to work” Doeman revealed.
In a bid to address the lack of a breathing apparatus refilling plant, the fire department have had to solicit the services of private companies which is proven to be quite expensive.
Following the April 2 (Good Friday) fire, which destroyed a section of the Barnett Street Police Station, Montego Bay’s Mayor Councillor, Charles Sinclair lashed out at the shortcomings of a fire station for the city.
“The absence of a fire station in Montego Bay right now the fire department operates from different locations which is unfair to the persons who have respond to fires. You can’t have a part of the fire department on Fort Street and one at Freeport, that don’t mek any sense. I’m calling on the Minister Robert Montague and the prime minister to honour the reconstruction of a fire station for Montego Bay,” the mayor stressed.
According to deputy commissioner Neil Findlay with responsibility for administration at the Jamaica Fire Brigade it will cost over $200 million to construct the proposed new fire headquarters on Barnett Street. Money from the Tourism Enhancement Fund was earmarked for the purchase of a fireboat to protect the tourism capital’s marine coast however there is still no fireboat.