The Newsletter of the Jamaica Fire Brigade
Half Way Tree- The Model Station
A decision has been taken to make the Fire Station at Half-Way-Tree in the K.S.A. Division a model station. This decision was taken against the background that the station responds to a higher volume of calls each month than any other station or in fact any Division island-wide.
The pilot project is designed to create a model that can be applied to other stations and involves repairing and refurbishing the physical structure of the station, replacing worn equipment, providing sports and recreational equipment, upgrading communications, computerizing the control room and creating a flexible data base for the stations records and reference sources.
This first phase of the project is almost complete, awaiting only the installation of three computers promised by the Minister of Local Government, the Honourable Arnold Bertram, who is solidly behind the project.
Phase two of the project requires that the operational capabilities of the station be improved by deploying an additional appliance to the station and implementing a more direct command structure. Assistant Superintendent Lansford Williams has been assigned direct responsibility for the administration of the station.
While members of staff support the efforts to complete the model, they however voiced some concerns about a recent invitation to persons who wish to volunteer for deployment to Half Way Tree. They feel that this implies that there is another set of criteria that members must have to work at that station. Their concern is that if a breakdown should occur, will persons who did not volunteer or who did not meet these secondary criteria be detailed to work there. The answer from management is that although the usual system of transfers or assignments will continue, the invitation to apply to work at Half- Way-Tree will serve to identify a pool of persons who would not normally be exposed to the wide range of experiences and facilities available at Half-Way-Tree, who are willing to work there. Thus availing themselves of a unique career development opportunity.
The Kaiser Returns
Karl-Olaf Kaiser the German Fire Safety Engineer who wrote his Masters Thesis here in Jamaica in 1999 returned to the island recently
for a number of speaking engagements. On his previous visit Karl had been assisted by the Brigade through the auspices of the Fire Prevention Division and had visited a number of stations and made friends with some of Brigade's members. He studied the fire prevention practices of the Brigade, our level of preparedness, as well as the preparedness of the Firefighters employed to the Airports Authority of Jamaica.
He was invited back to report on his findings regarding the fire safety of the Norman Manley International Airport. Mr. Kaiser made two presentations, one to the Airport Authority of Jamaica and the other to operational and fire prevention personnel of the Brigade on Friday 10 May 2002.
In an interview with Firebreak Mr. Kaiser revealed that he had been to Jamaica ten years before and developed a love for the country and the people. He also felt that Jamaica Fire Brigade at the time he was writing his thesis represented a typical growing fire service in a developing country, that adhered to British (European) traditions, hence, ideally suited for his case study.
When asked to make a comparison between fire prevention practices in Germany and those of Jamaica, Mr. Kaiser said the local practitioners were proficient but lacked the necessary state of the art resources of their German counterparts. Mr. Kaiser left the island on Sunday 12 May, 2002 to resume duties at BPK Company, Safety Consultants in Germany.
Praises For Manchester Division
There were high praises for the members of the Manchester Division for their outstanding efforts at a fire in Christiana recently. In an article titled "Kudos to Fire Department, the Star newspaper of Monday 13 May, 2002 reported how they responded to a wholesale store that had been broken into and then set ablaze. The fire threatened adjoining premises, including an LPG outlet, but was brought under control and finally extinguished by firefighters who had to travel from Mandeville because of mechanical problems with the Christiania appliance. Well done Manchester!
Brigade Over Whelmed By Flooding
Despite the valiant efforts of Firefighters in the various divisions island-wide, the Brigade's response capability was sorely tested over the six day period between Wednesday 22 and Monday 27 May, 2002.
Torrential showers pelted the island and as usual Firefighters rose to the occasion to provide necessary rescue assistance, but especially in Clarendon and St. Catherine, their aging, and in some instance poorly maintained appliances frequently broke down leaving them handicapped.
This situation again brought into focus the shortage of appliances within the Brigade as there were no reserve units to replace those taken off the line.
Once again we the members call on the authorities to give the Fire Brigade the required infusion of funds and address the many gaps in the equipment inventory before there is a major disaster.
Tired of the apparent inability of the administration to address the welfare of members and working conditions at Fire Stations in the foreseeable future, members in the eastern section of the island have stirred themselves into a fervour of activity aimed at improving the appearance and condition of their stations. Various self-help projects have been launched in Portland, St. Thomas and Kingston & St. Andrew Divisions.
These projects range from block drives to fish fries and have generated enthusiasm and enlisted the support of all ranks to make the ventures successful. Members of the public, especially in Portland and St. Thomas have been very generous and supportive. Firebreak salutes their efforts and plans to bring you details of the successfully completed projects as part of our feature on Fire Stations in each issue.
The efficiency of the Radio Network used by the Brigade has been improved, especially in St. Thomas, Kingston & St. Andrew, St. Catherine and a portion of Clarendon. This is as a result of a new contract with Comtran Limited to provide access to their repeater sites to give coverage on the VHF band.
Communications Officer, Deputy Superintendent H. Ricketts said that the contract is for eighteen months in the first instance. The next phase of the upgrading project will target repeater sites in Manchester, St. Ann, Westmoreland, Hanover and St. James.
Intumescent Fire Protection
Superintendent Laurie Williams and other members of the Brigade recently attended the launch of a range of Fire Protection products in Kingston. NO-BURN INC. launched its range of fire protection products at a reception in Kingston on Saturday 11, May 2002.
The launch took place at the cooperate offices of Lock Safe & Vault Limited, the sole agents for the product in Jamaica.
Guests observed demonstrations of the three (3) products used to protect wood and fabric, utilizing the principles of intumescence, that is to say the product will swell (produce many small bubbles) when heated and these provide insulation between the heat source and the surface being protected. No-Burn products may be applied as spray, primer or final coating to any surface.
While the product performed well during the demonstrations, the type of ignition source used (old newspaper) burned out in less than ten minutes, so it could not be ascertained how much protection would be provided over a longer exposure. However, the unprotected test sample (a 4 feet square model hose of form ply) was well engulfed within five minutes of exposure to the ignition source. Further information is available at Lock Safe & Vault Limited.
Fun Day Revival
The Annual Inter Area Sports and Fun Day which was abandoned in 2001 because of lack of preparedness of the Divisions will be revived this year.
In a recent release, chairman of the Brigade's National Planning Committee Superintendent Errol Mowatt stated that the event is slated for Saturday 27 July 2002 at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHs), Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth beginning at 9:30am.
The committee met on Thursday 17 May, 2002 to review the status of the preparations which have now swung into high gear. Two high- lights of this fun day will be the Firefighter's Race which requires that competitors start in minimum clothing at one end and be completely dressed in fire kit or uniform at the end of the race. There will also be races for senior officers over 50k and 70k.
Firebreak encourages all members to work together to make this, one of the Brigade's Calender events, a huge success.
Meet The Staff
Each issue, we introduce you to members of the Fire Brigade family. This month meet Oneil Dwight Savariau, a former student of Manning's High School and a serving member on the uniformed staff for the past five years.
He was the best recruit on Intake No. 4 in 1997 and is currently assigned to the Fire Prevention Division (KSA) after successfully completing the prescribed training course. He does fire safety inspection of buildings and provides public education on fire safety.
Firefighter Savariau also completed training as an Emergency Medical Technician, and is currently pursuing a two year programme in Management Studies at the University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies. In his free time he likes to play chess and cricket .
Firebreak asked him what were his perceptions of the Brigade. He said that while there have been changes over the past five years, every thing seemed to move at a very slow pace, and while the Brigade actively recruits bright, qualified people, not enough is being done to retain these human resource assets.
When asked about the operations of the service, he felt that firefighters were doing a good job despite limitations in equipment and public opinion. For him, the most dynamic area of the Brigade is fire prevention.
Next, meet Verona Anetha Malcolm, a former St. Andrew High School student who has worked in the non-uniformed staff of the Brigade for the past seven years. Ms. Malcolm came to the Brigade from the Civil Aviation Department. She is a Certified Professional Secretary and is the Administrative Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations.
Ms. Malcolm is conservative, but displays a marvelous sense of fashion (incidentally her favourite colour is royal blue).
In her spare time she enjoys singing, travelling, and generally socializing with friends. Ms. Malcolm's plans are to complete her degree in management studies and ultimately own her own business, catering cocktails and weddings for the rich and famous.
Turning to issues concerning the Brigade, she feels that the administrative process seems to be constantly bogged down through bureaucratic red tape, and that because of the autocratic nature of the leadership structure, persons with creative ideas tend to be timid to come forward because of fear of being shot down. On the whole though, she thinks the wider body of Brigade personnel are people with integrity.
Firebreak's final question to Ms. Malcolm about romance and attachments only elicited a demure smile and a promise to tell us when the time is right.
F irebreak notes and regrets the death of Sgt. Ivan Christie of the St. Ann Division. Sgt Christie served for many years in the St. Ann Division and was well known in Trade Union circles. He is survived by his wife and children. Funeral services were held at the St. Ann's Bay Baptist Church and internment followed in the St. Ann's Bay cemetery. Heading the list of mourners were Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations, Frederick Whyte and Mrs. Whyte, and Assistant Commissioner Lynden Mattocks, Superintendent Errol Mowatt, Acting OIC Area II and Senior Deputy Superintendent Denzil Kerr Divisional Head, St. Ann Division. We extend condolences to his family and friends, and also to the following members who recently lost loved ones.
Conard Moore - Father
Josephine Williams - Mother
Annette Gray-Shepard - Father
Lenroy Stewart - Grand-mother
Sir, on behalf of the executive of the K.S.A. Division Sports Club, I would like to congratulate our netball team for being voted the most disciplined team in the recently concluded Jamaica Netball Association Junior League Netball Competition.
The team played seven matches, won five and lost two by a very slim margin (two and one goals respectively). Keep up the good work and I hope next season will be a better one for us.
As promised we have introduced a new feature where we introduce members of staff in each issue of the newsletter. This will be done at random so that persons from different Divisions are highlighted each time.
You the readers can influence this process by indicating your friends or any other member that you think should be featured or you .
would like to hear from. Ultimately though, the plan is to eventually get to each member of the workforce
As usual you are invited to send your news items, opinions, jokes, short stories etc., so that the newsletter reflects the diverse range of personalities within the organization.
Visit the Brigade's web site that provides many local and international links to interesting sites. Again in this issue we present some entries from persons who have visited. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thought For Today
Before you give somebody a piece of your mind, be sure you can get by with what you have left.
Grey Clouds For Evelyn.
The day started like any other typical work day for her and she went about her duties at the Mandeville Fire Station with her usual cheer and goodwill.
She was not alarmed when the bells were turned up and the crew
got a shout, she had seen them respond on many occasions. This was not to be a typical response however. Monday 6th May, 2002 will long be remembered by her and other persons in Scot's Town.
Imagine the shock and horror of Evelyn Grey, cook at the station for many years when reports from the given location revealed that her house in Scot's Town redvale, Manchester had been destroyed by fire, the same call to which her station had responded. This fire that occurred at approximately 3:35pm left Ms. Grey and her two children homeless.
Members of the Manchester Fire Brigade Sports Club and other members of staff were quick to respond to Ms. Grey's plight and donated cash and kind to help her recovery.
Persons who are interested in offering assistance to Ms. Grey may contact Deputy Superintendent Maxwell Hinds Divisional Head, Manchester Division.
We apologize that due to technical problems the March issue of Firebreak is only available on-line. Visit the Brigades web site at http://www.jamaica-firebrigade.com and enjoy the full colour pictures included.