Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says the Government will be spending significant sums to improve the condition of fire stations across the island.
He noted that repair work is already underway at the Buff Bay and Port Antonio stations in Portland, and more than $6 million will be spent to construct a perimeter fence at the Negril facility in Westmoreland.
He informed that funding has been provided to upgrade the courtyard at the Junction Fire Station in St. Elizabeth and he has asked the Mayor of Black River to provide an estimate to undertake the necessary repairs at the Black River station.
He said that funds will also be provided to retrofit two fire units in Westmoreland so that they can be brought back into use.
Minister McKenzie was speaking at a ceremony at the Junction Fire Station on Friday (May 12), where Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Masanori Nakano, officially handed over three fire-fighting trucks and a water tanker to serve St. Elizabeth and adjoining parishes.
He said the Government “recognises that the men and women who put their lives at risk as our first responders must be given the requisite tools with which to execute their jobs. We want to ensure that the environment in which they live and from which they operate, is conducive to good work.”
He expressed gratitude to the people and Government of Japan for the units, noting that many communities will benefit. He informed that come early June, Japan will be donating two state-of-the-art command vehicles to complement the fleet of the fire brigade.
The Minister noted that Japan has been a key partner in the strengthening of local governance, recently signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) “worth millions of Jamaican dollars” with the Government for the installation of a new telecommunications system to assist the country’s disaster response.
He said further that within the last three months, the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has received two new tipper trucks from Japan to assist with garbage collection.
Ambassador Nakano, in the meantime, said the provision of units is in keeping with the strong collaboration and cooperation between the countries.
“Japan is happy to know that from today onwards, the Junction and Black River fire brigade will now have the emergency resources to provide urgent attention and care for the people within the parish of St. Elizabeth and adjoining territories,” he noted.
The Ambassador said the use of the trucks should result in less fire-related disasters, ultimately saving precious lives and valuable property.
Acting Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Raymond Spencer, for his part, noted that the fire units will increase the response capability and provide greater coverage for St. Elizabeth, Manchester and Westmoreland.
He informed that he has had discussions with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) regarding training opportunities for fire personnel in areas such as hazardous waste, operations response, marine firefighting, urban search and rescue, swift and static water rescue, among others.
The units were acquired through grant funding under Japan’s Grant Funding Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects.
Meanwhile, Minister McKenzie said that on his next visit to St. Elizabeth, he will be breaking ground for the construction of four water shops to benefit areas affected by drought.
Article by: Barbara Ellington
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm