The Newsletter of the Jamaica Fire Brigade
On Friday May 4th members of the St. Mary Division featured prominently in the news when they effected a daring rescue of six persons from the swirling waters of the flooded Rio Nuevo.
The river rose suddenly because of torrential rain and swept away eight persons who had been washing on its banks. Six of the persons managed to cling to a tree until they were eventually rescued by the firefighters.
The firefighters lead by District Officer (D/O) Unita Welch effected the rescue by securing themselves with life lines and waded through the turbulent waters to the victims with additional lines and rescue harnesses. Each person had to be lifted and taken to safety.
D/O Welch told Firebreak that she was proud of the efficiency and cohesiveness with which the team worked during the emergency. The firefighters were given high praises for their effort by members of the public. Notable among these was a letter of commendation from business - man Basil Waite in the Gleaner of Tuesday June 5th 2001, in which he said " I therefore take this opportunity to personally commend and congratulate this remarkable woman, District Officer Welch ,along with Lance Corporal W. Reid and Firefighter D. White on the professionalism displayed under the most trying of circumstances".
Wage negotiations completed !
Wage negotiations for the contract period July 1999 to June 2001 were completed recently with the signing of the Wage Contract by the Unions, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the Management of the Brigade at the offices of the Ministry of Finance.
Re-certification of EMTs
Over the period April 2nd to May 4th, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)were busy attending refresher courses prior to sitting their re-certification examinations. Trained to the EMT-Basic level the EMTs must be re-certified every two years.
The refresher courses were conducted by Dr. Winsome Segree from the University of the West Indies. Candidates did both written and practical examinations. The first course was conducted in Lucea, then proceeded to Ironshore through to Sav-la-mar and finally to Negril. This certification by the UWI is to international EMS standards.
Ultimately, the Brigade is aiming at having all firefighters trained to the First Responder level which involves basic first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and casualty stabilization.
Payment of Qualification Allowance
Uniformed members of the Brigade have received another incentive to improve their academic and fire service qualification through the payment of a Qualification Allowance. This allowance is provided for in the Terms and Conditions of Service and rates were negotiated by the Unions in the 1997-1999 Wage Contract and again in the 1999 - 2001 contract.
Persons whose qualifications meet the eligibility criteria will receive a one-time, lump-sum payment. The qualifications being considered are : Member - Institute of Fire Engineers, Graduate Diploma - Institute of Fire Engineers, Preliminary Certificate - Institute of Fire Engineers. Tertiary level Degree, Tertiary level Diploma, Vocational or Professional Certificate.
Tertiary level, Vocational and Professional qualifications must be in subject areas relevant to the needs of the Brigade.
Members should note that qualifications earned prior to July 1997 are not eligible for this payment.
Firefighters honoured in St. Thomas
Sunday 27th May was a gala occasion in Yallahs when members of government and the general public saluted the efforts of firefighters in that community with a civic function.
The event took place at the Bougainvillea Club in Yallahs, hosted by club owner Mr. Junior Bogle. Guests were headed by Mayor of Morant Bay, His Worship Owen Atkinson, who was joined by the Member of Parliament for Western St. Thomas Mr. Anthony Hylton.
Citations were read and a plaque was presented to the Divisional Head, Deputy Superintendent Winston Davis, on behalf of the firefighters most of whom were present. Special recognition was also given to Messrs Peter Faulkner and Llewellyn Stuart for their efforts during their service to the Brigade. Both are now retired. Senior Deputy Superintendent R.B. Johnson represented the Area Officer who was ill.
The Yallahs Fire Station is a result of citizens initiative after a series of major fires in the area in 1995. The building was formerly a service station. Since the start of the year, the Yallahs Fire Station has responded to 52 calls. A total of 168 calls were responded to in 2000.
A briefing on Psychometric Assessment was held at the Jamaica Conference Centre on Tuesday 29th May to sensitize members of the Brigade to the purpose of these assessments and the benefits to be gained by the organization and individuals.
The gathering was addressed by Mr. Trevor Little, Managing Director of HRD Profiles, a human resources consulting firm. A Psychometric Assessment, as described by Mr. Little, is not a pass or fail test but is an instrument to identify individual's rate of learning, special interests, personality traits and thinking style.
This assessment allows managers to identify training needs and tailor training to match different individuals. Managers are therefore better able to predict the results of any training undertaken with reasonable accuracy.
Although the Psychometric Assessment is primarily being used as part of the Brigade's succession planning, it is also a valuable tool for individuals to check the level of their personal development and reassess career goals.
The first set of assessments were conducted on the 20th and 21st June 2001 and included the Commissioner and all senior officers.
Assistance to St. John's Council
Members of the Brigade responded to an appeal for financial assistance from the St. John's Council, the governing body of the St. John's Ambulance Association and the St. John's Ambulance Brigade in Jamaica.
Fifty-six Thousand and Fifty Dollars ($56,050.00) was collected within the Brigade to assist the cash strapped organization.
The Fire Brigade has had a long association with the St. John's Council and the Order of St. John.
The origins of the Order can be traced back to the time of the Crusades when it was known as Knight Templars, in Malta, where they provided medical services and hospital care for the wounded. Since that time chapters have been established worldwide.
Restructuring exercise pending
Unions representing members of the Brigade are currently studying the details of a restructuring proposal put forward by the Board of Directors.
This proposal is the result of a policy decision within the Ministry of Local Government to " create a more efficient and cost effective Brigade".
The Unions and members are obviously concerned about the impact of any such restructuring on the welfare of the workforce and are adamant that no implementation should proceed without joint consultation.
Restructuring at this time will affect both uniformed and non-uniformed staff. Some of the proposals are:
a. Removal of some posts
b. Creation of some new posts
c. Separation of St. Catherine
into a distinct area
What is evident is that for this process to be completed efficiently all the long term implications, including morale of the workforce,scope for promotion and job security must be factored into the planning process.
EMTs - "Unsung heroes"
They wear light blue shirts with a colourful badge on the left arm. Their caps carry the stylized emblem known internationally as the "Star of Life". They are the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) - and they belong to that arm of the Brigade responsible for delivering Emergency Medical Service.
Since April 1996 these men and women have been part of a joint venture between the Brigade and Ministry of Health. This pilot project resulted in EMS stations being established in Lucea, Negril, Ironshore and Sav-la-mar, sometimes with hardship to the members.
Statistics reveal that these EMTs respond to an average of forty calls per station, per month. Cases ranges from road traffic accidents (RTA), emergency childbirth, asthma attacks and wounds inflicted during domestic disputes. By all reports these services are well received and appreciated by the communities they serve.
Currently there are 50 practicing EMTs and another 25 who were trained but have been assigned duties in other areas of the Brigade. The serving members work on shifts of four persons, three riding as crew and one acting as dispatcher on rotation.
Plans are now in the pipeline to move to Phase 2 of the project which will see the service being extended into Portmore in St. Catherine. In the meantime the EMTs continue to quietly and professionally provide a service of care as they uphold the Brigade's mandate of "Saving Lives, Protecting Property".
Members of the St.Catherine Division Sport Club were guests at Breezes Runaway Bay Sport Club on Sunday 27th May, in a day filled with fun and excitement.
This is the second year that Breezes (part of the Super Clubs Group) has participated with the Division in such a venture. The days activities included cricket, football, dominos and of course a lot of sea and sun.
The St. Catherine Division Sport Club also plans to enter the Waterford Sports Association Corner League Competition as a preliminary step towards entering the Portmore Division 2 Football Competition which starts in mid September of this year
On Tuesday 5th June the Portland Division Sports Club played the St. Elizabeth Division Sports Club in a friendly football match at Gregory Park in St. Catherine.
Both teams had 3 goals at full time and the match ended with a penalty shoot out 4-2 in favour of St. Elizabeth.
Plans for the National Fun Day have now moved into high gear as the knock out competitions in football and cricket continue and final arrangements are being made for this annual event.
Deputy Superintendent Herneal Ricketts, Deputy co-ordinator of the National Fun Day Planning Committee, said these plans included the usual arrangements for a popular disco, bounce-about for the children and a variety of entertainment during the intervals between events.
There will also be a variety concert at the end of the sporting events and dancing into the wee hours.
Two events that the organizers are keen to get off the ground are the open race for older members and the firefighters race in which participants are expected to run to a point where clothing and equipment are piled, put them on quickly after which they will run to the finish line.
Fire Stations Lose Utilities!
Members of the Brigade are concerned at the frequency with which Fire Stations lose their utility services because of non-payment of bills. On successive days ( June 18th & 19th ) the Brigade has been in the news for loss of electricity at Port Antonio Fire Station and water lock-off at Port Maria Station. All of this coupled with the unpredictability of the Health Insurance Scheme and the continued late payment of overtime dampens the fervour of the members.
We call on the Ministry to make the necessary funds available to keep the Brigade going.
In the last issue there was an article entitled "Fund Raising Venture" in which D/O Lothian-Palmer was quoted as saying " the venture was a huge success" What D/O Palmer actually said was that " the venture was not the huge success anticipated". Firebreak apologizes for any embarrassment caused.
Firebreak extends condolence to the following members who recently lost loved ones:
Keith Robinson -Father
Roydel Johnson - Father
Lannie Sinclair - Father
Lansford Williams - Brother
Roland Walters - Father
We are happy at the support that Firebreak has received from members of the Brigade. We invite you to continue this support by sending us information on Brigade related events.
One concern expressed by members was for more copies of the Newsletter to be distributed. This is being addressed. Please note that the Newsletter is published bi-monthly.
We are also happy to announce
that Firebreak is accessible online at
the Brigade's website :
Congratulations on the first edition of your Newsletter. This is like a breath of fresh air. I have been working with this Department for the past two years and felt disassociated from the other members of staff, because I did not know the majority of employees.
This Newsletter should serve as a medium to connect members of staff and as an avenue of communication.
Once again congratulations and may the Newsletter become a regular publication and grow from strength to strength.
Let me take this opportunity to say the introduction of the Newsletter is a splendid idea.
JFB/95652 L/Cpl Julian Davis
(Extracted from the Jamaica Fire Brigade Guest Book @
(Extracted from the Jamaica Fire Brigade Guest Book @ http://www.jamaica-firebrigade.com)
Thought for today
Ask for God's blessing on your work, don't ask him to do it.