The Newsletter of the Jamaica Fire Brigade
|Vol. 1||April, 2001|
On Friday March 16th 2001the Jamaica Fire Brigade's booth was adjudged third best booth at the University of the West Indies Career Expo held at its Mona Campus. The theme of the exposition was "www.wideworld of work". Members of the Brigade from operations, fire prevention, training and civilian staff cooperated to set up a booth that represented all aspects of Brigade life. The team's efforts were directed by Assistant Commissioner L Mattocks. Booth attendants were drawn from KSA, St. Thomas and Portland Divisions. The Jamaica Fire Brigade last scored in 1998 when we won the award for best booth.
Land for Training School!
There is a looming possibility that the Brigade will have its own Training School - at long last! The Commissioner of Lands has offered a piece of land which the Brigade is invited to view in order to determine its suitability for construction of said school. The land is situated close to the José Marti Technical High School in St. Catherine.
Commissioner Benson made this announcement recently while speaking on the popular radio programme "My Place". He hastened to add, however, that the time frame between acceptance of the land and actual construction of a school could be long because of the various design, approval and funding processes to be completed.
Westmoreland Division gets gift
The Minister of Water and Housing, the Honourable Carl Blythe recently donated one hundred thousand Jamaican dollars ($100,000.00) to the
Westmoreland Division of the Brigade. The money is to be used for repairs to the appliances of the Sav-la-mar and Negril stations. Divisional Head George Thompson expressed gratitude on behalf of the members and promised continued selfless service to the community by the Fire Brigade.
More Japanese assistance
Another fire appliance has been received as a donation from the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Diplomacy as part of the ongoing assistance from Japan to the JFB. This latest gift brings the number to three and there is a fourth appliance slated to arrive soon. The 8000kg Isuzu vehicle seats a crew of seven and carries 1500 litres of water. This appliance has been deployed to the St. Catherine Division Over the years Japan has provided places on a number of training courses ranging from earthquake preparedness to rescue techniques.
York Park hosts radio show
Monday 26th March saw the popular radio programme "My Place" with host Michael Antony Cuff being broadcast live from the York Park Fire Station in Kingston. Produced by Heather Grant for KLAS FM89, the three-hour programme provided a forum for the discussion of the issues affecting the Brigade. Guests on the show included Commissioner Benson, Snr. Dpty. Supt. R. B. Johnson (Acting Divisional Head), other officers and representatives from the insurance and fire protection industries.
Baton change in St. Ann Division
The St. Ann Division recently experienced a change in leadership when Assistant Superintendent Valbert W. Lawrence was appointed Acting Divisional Head for the parish. Mr. Lawrence replaced Snr. Dpty. Supt. Pessoa who is on pre-retirement leave.
Formerly of the St. James Division and the Training Department, Mr. Lawrence brings to his new post a wealth of knowledge gained operationally and in training at the Fire Defence Agency in Japan. A former football referee, Mr. Lawrence is a sports enthusiast and is active in many civic organizations including the Montego Bay Cricket Club and various school boards.
We wish Mr. Lawrence success during his tenure and extend good wishes to Mr. Pessoa in all his future endeavours.
NAFO head resigns
The President of the National Association of Fire Officers Earl Hylton has resigned from this position. Mr. Hylton told Firebreak that it was becoming increasingly difficult to juggle the administration of his Division and the responsibilities of NAFO Presidency and he did not feel he was able to fulfil his obligations to the best of his abilities.
When pressed for details he did admit that there was a certain degree of frustration at the slow pace at which decisions agreed within the organization were acted on.
Mr. Hylton however, retains his membership and pledges support for all activities of the organization in whatever position he is placed.
The 1st Vice President, Assistant Superintendent John Forrester, will carry out the duties of President pending the next formal election of Officers.
Two new justices
Members of the Brigade are happy about the recent appointment of Assistant Superintendent D. Charlton and District Officer H. Knight as Justices of the Peace for the parishes of Kingston and St. Thomas respectively. It is good to see members of the Brigade receiving recognition from the public and recommendations for civic office. We extend hearty congratulations.
Hundreds of persons turned out on Saturday 31st March to participate in the thanksgiving service for the life of the late Corporal Edmond Allen of the KSA Division. Glowing tributes spoke of the Corporal's life as an evangelist, father, and an efficient co-worker. Those present were particularly moved by a brief sermon from his young son Kavan. Firebreak extends condolences to his family and all his many friends. He will be missed.
Plans for Fun Day
The National Fun Day Planning Committee met recently (Thursday 5 April) at Sandals Resort Ocho Rios. Top item on the agenda was the plan for the National Fun Day - 2001.
The Fun Day is slated for Saturday 28 July 2001 at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School. This is the third staging of the competitions at STETHS. Sources told Firebreak that the venue was popular because it offered good facilities, was relatively cheaper than most other venues, and was sure of support by members of the public from the surrounding community.
The schedule of events has been drafted and knockout competitions are already in progress. Area IV is the current champion Area.
The National Planning Committee is noted for its erstwhile fundraising ventures annually and this year's event was a blast. Firebreak spoke to committee treasurer Lothian Palmer and learned that the reggae socca on the beach bash at Paradise Cove on Sunday 29 April 2001 was a huge success.
It was a FAME endorsed event featuring popular radio personalities including Jenny-Jenny (Radio 2), and Marlon Young (FAME FM). There were many prizes and surprises. Music was provided by the very popular Peter Phillips Disco and the event kicked off from 10am.
Proceeds from this venture will be used to assist in defraying costs of the upcoming Fun Day and to provide assistance to the Divisional Sports Clubs. Assistant coordinator H. Ricketts said that other events are planned for later in the year as we get closer to the annual ball.
Brigade behind in IT
Information technology is the buzzword in every forum today and various agencies of government and entities in the private sector are moving speedily to acquire this state of the art.
Members of the Brigade are concerned however with the slow pace of the JFB's attempts at computerization. While it is laudable that the payroll system has been customized and computerized and the Brigade's web-site has received a large number of hits to date, the feeling is that crucial aspects of the Brigades operations are yet to receive attention.
In addition to the computers at Brig HQ a number of Divisions have acquired desktop computers through their own efforts but, as yet, there is no clearly defined IT strategy for the Brigade.
The computers at Brig HQ and in the few Divisions that have them, are primarily used for word-processing, spreadsheet solutions and connection to the Internet. Real computerization would take the capabilities of the Brigade to the next level of technology - allowing for the development of an Intranet, providing ready access to street indices and hazardous material data islandwide and improved voice communications.
At the administrative level there is software available to help managers forecast human resource needs, analyse environmental risks and create real time training simulations of different scenarios. The possibilities are endless. As usual, management will argue about financial constraints, but a real effort at improving IT capabilities would be supported by government as part of their current thrust in schools and government departments. Besides, any organization that is pro-active must recognize that development and management of information systems is crucial to future growth and efficiency.
The call therefore is for the Brigade to get its act together and
Behind in IT....contd.
develop an action plan for computerization. If a plan already exists it must be communicated to all of us as players so we can better understand our roles and responsibilities. While we wait we encourage members, as part of their personal development, to acquire computer skills and certification from reputable institutions. These skills will be increasingly required for work, leisure and study.
In time all of us will have to answer the popular Microsoft Cooperation question, "Where do you want to go today?"
Visit the Brigade's Web Site
For information on JFB resources and many available hot links to fire service information worldwide, visit our site at:
Secretaries Day was Wednesday 25 April this year but the ladies in the Brigade celebrated the occasion on Thursday 26th. The celebrations took the form of a luncheon at Twyn Citi Restaurant & Lounge, Portmore, St. Catherine. Guest speaker was Mrs Elaine Thompson-Gregory, Vice President Jamaica Professional Secretaries Association and Principal of the Elathos School of Business.
Netball players of the KSA Sports Club have entered the Jamaica Netball Association's Divisional League. So far they have played four games with one win and three losses. The win came against Eagle Strikers who were beaten 28 to 18. A team of domino players from the KSA Sports Club recently defeated an all female team from K&A Limited in a friendly domino match. They were subsequently beaten in a match against Premix Limited.
Thought for today
Watch your tongue; remember it is in a wet place and likely to slip.
This is the first issue of a News- letter that we hope will become a permanent fixture within the Brigade. In this issue various items of regional and national Brigade related news have been presented in what we hope is a straightforward and unbiased manner.
We feel however that there is scope for more variety and that is why you are invited to participate in the publication of subsequent issues.
In the future this page will be reserved for your letters on any issue on which you would like to comment. Firebreak also encourages submissions of articles, short stories, poems, and photographs from uniformed and non-uniformed staff.
All submissions must include the writer's full name and Division or Department, although except for articles, only initials will be published.
Thanks to Ian Atkinson, Copeland Green, Carol Wilmot, Tamika Christian, Audrena Duhaney and all the other persons whose help and advice made this issue of Firebreak a reality.
With this in mind, we look forward to your comments and contributions.