The new wage package for uniform staff of the Jamaica Fire Brigade was signed on Wednesday 11th September 2002 at Brigade Headquarters. Officials from the three (3) major unions, Commissioner of Jamaica Fire Brigade and some chief delegates were signatories to this agreement.
The package represents compensation for the July 2001- July 2003 contract period. Firebreak spoke with General Secretary for J.A.L.G.O., Mrs. Helene Davis-Whyte and Negotiating Officer for U.A.W.U. Mr. Leonard Wilson about some of the salient features of the package. There were certain allowances (specifically laundry, duty, good conduct chevrons) have now been rolled into salary. This now means that all ranks will be in receipt of duty allowance, thus effectively eliminating overtime payments.
When asked about the percentage increase we were informed that it was not a percentage of salary but an adjustment of the rates to keep the firefighters salary within reasonable limits of other Government workers ( the police force etc,) as stipulated in an earlier agreement. Implementation is scheduled 1st November 2002 and retroactive payments are due in April 2003.
The afternoon of July 6 2002 was one of pomp and ceremony for the Brigade as it hosted the graduation parade for Intake #9 at the Madge Saunders Training Centre in St. Mary.
With a complement of one hundred and ninety-five recruits, Intake #9 represented the largest intake to be trained by Jamaica Fire Brigade and indeed the largest single intake since the inception of the fire services in Jamaica.
Inspecting officer and guest speaker at the function was the Minister of Local Government and Community Development Honourable Arnold Bertram. The specially invited guests included Mayor of Port Maria , Chairman Of the Brigades Board Mr. D. T. Brown, Mr. Russell, representing trophy sponsors Fraser Fontaine and Kong Insurance Brokers Limited.
The award for best recruit was made by minister Bertram to recruit Asif Burgess.
Following a postponement of the event in 2001 and an incomplete programme because of rain the previous year the Jamaica Fire Brigade's Annual Inter-Area Sporting Competition and Fun-Day was held on Saturday, July 27 at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS).
The opening remarks were made by the acting OIC Area IV Superintendent Errol Mowatt as the events got off to a start at about 10:00 am.
The first event of the day, the 1500m race for females was won by newcomer Firefighter Ava Daley of Area 4 who also went on to win the 400m and placed second in the 800m events. She walked away with trophy as the Champion Athlete (Female). The 1500m event for males was won by Firefighter Damion McCormack out of Area 3 who definitely made a statement by winning every individual event he participated in which were the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m. He also anchored the 4x400m relay team and was the first to cross the finish line. Damion, quite deservedly was named Champion Athlete (Male).
The events continued under the sweltering heat of the Santa Cruz sun with the 100m dash for Senior Officers in which the Commissioner Major H.G. Benson proved to be too much for the rest of the field by outrunning the competition and crossing the finishing line in a time of 13.87 seconds with District Officer Dalton Lewis coming in not too far behind.
Other outstanding performers of the day were Firefighter Fausha Trench another newcomer to the Brigade out of Area 4 who won the 200m and 800m events and placed second in the 100m. Lance Corporal Julian Davis also gave a good performance for Area III by winning the 50m and 100m events. The Area III men then proved that they were the strongest of them all by defeating each of their opponents in the Tug-O-War event.
At the end of the day the final points standing saw Area III emerging as the Champions for 2002 Area IV the defending champions had to settle for second place, Area I came in third and Area II brought up the rear. Well done to all competitors.
Operational Command Training
Between 8 - 19 July 2002, twenty -three district officers drawn from K.S.A., St. Catherine, St. James, St. Ann and St. Elizabeth underwent eighty hours of intensive training at the Caribbean Maritime Institute.
The theme for the course was "Standards Start With Officers", and over the ten day period the officers reviewed the concepts of leadership and motivation, revised the incident command system and practised the main command functions necessary to maintain effective control at incidents
Hosted by Area I and sponsored by Brigade Headquarters, the course represented Part I of a three part series of courses directed at turn out officers. Part II slated for early October will review Rescue Practices at Road Traffic Accidents and Part III will present methods of instruction to be employed by station officers conducting training.
Firebreak extends sympathies to three fire fighters who were injured while responding to an incident in St. Andrew recently. The fire fighters, Sgt. Astley Baker, Carlos Clarke and Melverton Roberts received varying degrees of burns resulting in Carlos Clarke being hospitalized. Investigations are still being conducted in the matter. Reports are that the crew from the Half Way Tree Fire Station responded to a call of fire at a fast food provider on Molynes Road. On arrival they discovered fire confined to a deep fat fryer. It is not yet clear how, but water was applied to the oil resulting in the fire fighters being splattered with hot oil. This occurrence serves to underscore the need for officers and all firefighters to observe safe practice at incidents and adhere to the standard operational procedures established by the Brigade.
The Swedish Connection
I arrived at Land Vetter Airport, Gotoberg at 2315 hours on Saturday April 6, 2002. The rain was drizzling but the sky looked as if it was 1930 hours on a summer evening in Jamaica.
En-route to Hotel Spar in Marjorna a town approximately 25 kilo-metres away, I was surprised that there were hardly any signs of life except for a few cars on the clean and well paved streets. The bare trees were a reminder that it was springtime.
During the next six weeks I became aware of the friendliness and civility of the Swedish people. The cleanliness of the city and the environmental consciousness of the society were remarkable. Good time management is practised in all areas of service. The transportation system is enviable. I was intrigued to see tramcars, buses and private motor vehicles sharing the same roadway. The networks of roadways with continuous stretches of highways merged with tunnels and spanned by all types of bridges were awesome.
The scenic beauty captivated me as I rode through the countryside. The forests, parks and prepared farmlands were pleasing to the eyes. By the end of the six weeks, the flowers began to bloom and the trees were covered with leaves that accentuated the beauty of a country with a somewhat homogenous landscape.
The course I attended was risk management in community development planning. Its focal points were physical planning, hazard identification and analysis, environmental impact assessment and crisis management. The main objectives were to identify potential hazards and plan strategies for disaster risk reduction, risk management and loss mitigation.
A lot of emphasis was placed on physical planning and environmental impact assessment because of the devastating effects that can result from poor planning of a city or town. Study visits were made to building sites and industries to reinforce the lectures.
The response capability of Sweden to all types and levels of disasters is satisfactory. The structure and integration of the Rescue services facilitates quick and coordinated response to emergencies at the local and national levels. The clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the air, sea and land rescue agencies minimized duplication of efforts and waste of resources.
The alliance with the other Nordic countries- Norway, Denmark and Finland for air and sea rescues, as well as the multilateral agreements with Germany, Finland, Russia and Norway to deal with nuclear accidents strengthens Sweden's preparedness for disasters.
Sweden, being a member of the European Union also benefits from the long term approaches to disaster reduction adopted by the European Commission. The continuous updating of risk assessment and disaster management plans at the national and community level advance their preparedness for disasters.
The uses of volunteer firefighters and the mandatory service of teens in the rescue services provide a trained cadre of professionals on call at all times. The central dispatching system, the use of Geographic information System, mutual aid agreement between neighbouring provinces and a good communication system linked to central dispatching, also contributes to their readiness.
Also to be considered is the social and welfare facilities provided for the rescue workers by the authorities. My dream is that ultimately Jamaica can begin to approach the levels of preparedness, demonstrated in Sweden. In time I hope that those of us who have benefited from training in Sweden will utilize the models learnt to heighten the preparedness of the Jamaica Fire Brigade and other emergency response agencies. Specifically I would like us to take the APPEL System into emergency planning for our local communities.
Since 1997 the Jamaica Fire Brigade has established an ongoing relationship with the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and SSPA Sweden AB where officers are provided with training in risk management. Ms. Thompson who is currently acting as divisional head in Hanover is th most recent officer to have visited Sweden.
Reeling from their performance at the recently held Inter Area Sports Day, members of the K. S. A Division Sports Club, which provides the largest number of members for the Area I Team, have vowed to make every effort to avert such a performance in the future. Reports are that the Acting OIC for the Area summoned the executive of the sports club to a meeting to explain why they were not able to secure the championship.
Over the period 11th July 2002 and 15th August 2002 the K. S. A Sports Club cricket and domino teams participated in a number of matches
The domino team played in three matches hosted by the Kingston & St. Andrew Parish Library on Tom Redcam Drive. Of these matches they were successful in those against Bearing and Seals Limited and the hosts but lost against Jamaica Urban Transit Company (J.U.T.C.)
Mean while the cricket team was not so fortunate. They lost both games, played at the Jody-Ann Complex in Arnett Gardens. In the first match against St. Elizabeth Cricket Club, K. S. A was all out for 83 runs while the opponents scored 261. In the other match K.S.A. scored 120for 9 wickets in a valiant effort to contest the 190 for 9 scored by Tavern United Cricket Club.
Inter Watch/Station Six -a -Side football competitions are now under way in K. S. A. Division. In the first match Fire Prevention defeated Fireboat Station one nil. The inter watch domino competition is slated to start shortly. Word is that trophies will be sponsored by different individuals including the Acting OIC for the Area.
This month Firebreak
would like you to meet
Carol Wilmot, attached to the Fire Prevention
Department of the Portland Division.
Born in Black Hill, Portland, Ms.
Wilmot attended Black Hill Basic
School then the Black Hill All-age
School before going to Titchfield
High School. She also attended
Jamaica School ob Business prior to
enlisting in the Brigade five years
ago. In addition to her Fire Prevention
duties she participates in many
community activities to include being
a member of the Portland Aids
Committee, Buff Bay Police Youth
Club and a member of the Glad
Tidings Church of the First Born
Youth Fellowship. Her hobbies are
singing, sharing experiences and she
is a trained interior decorator. Miss Wilmot is single and has
one six year old daughter. When ask
about her career ambitions, she
replied promptly, "to be
commissioner of the Brigade of
course". Next meet Ian Constantine Atkinson, Systems Administrator, Brigade
Headquarters. Mr. Atkinson is also
from Portland, Tom's Hope District
to be exact, where he attended Ken
Wright Primary School. He too
attended Titchfield High School. He joined the civilian staff of the
Brigade on March 1st 1996 straight
from the Jamaica Defence Force
where he worked as a Systems
Administrator/Programmer. He is
responsible for the maintenance of
the computer systems of the Brigade
as well as being instrumental in the
development and maintenance of the
Web Site His hobby is driving and he
is single. When asked about his
perceptions of the Brigade, Mr
Atkinson said he was concerned that
the Administration always seemed to
be forced to stretch scarce resources
to get things done, but was heartened
by the tenacity displayed by members
of the Brigade in spite of the
hardships. Mr Atkinson believes that
persons in today's rapidly changing
should actively seek to have
themselves cross-trained in another
discipline because technology is
increasingly changing the ways in
which people work. His ambition is
to establish and run his own business,
possibly in auto mechanics.
attached to the Fire Prevention Department of the Portland Division. Born in Black Hill, Portland, Ms. Wilmot attended Black Hill Basic School then the Black Hill All-age School before going to Titchfield High School. She also attended Jamaica School ob Business prior to enlisting in the Brigade five years ago.
In addition to her Fire Prevention duties she participates in many community activities to include being a member of the Portland Aids Committee, Buff Bay Police Youth Club and a member of the Glad Tidings Church of the First Born Youth Fellowship. Her hobbies are singing, sharing experiences and she is a trained interior decorator.
Miss Wilmot is single and has one six year old daughter. When ask about her career ambitions, she replied promptly, "to be commissioner of the Brigade of course".
Next meet Ian Constantine Atkinson,
Systems Administrator, Brigade Headquarters. Mr. Atkinson is also from Portland, Tom's Hope District to be exact, where he attended Ken Wright Primary School. He too attended Titchfield High School.
He joined the civilian staff of the Brigade on March 1st 1996 straight from the Jamaica Defence Force where he worked as a Systems Administrator/Programmer. He is responsible for the maintenance of the computer systems of the Brigade as well as being instrumental in the development and maintenance of the Web Site His hobby is driving and he is single.
When asked about his perceptions of the Brigade, Mr Atkinson said he was concerned that the Administration always seemed to be forced to stretch scarce resources to get things done, but was heartened by the tenacity displayed by members of the Brigade in spite of the hardships.
Mr Atkinson believes that persons in today's rapidly changing should actively seek to have themselves cross-trained in another discipline because technology is increasingly changing the ways in which people work. His ambition is to establish and run his own business, possibly in auto mechanics.
A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible. The little girl said, "When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah". The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?" The little girl replied, "Then you ask him".
Hope, enthusiasm and wisdom are to the mind as food is to the body. Everyone needs daily sustenance.
Firebreak extends condolences to the following members who recently lost loved ones:
Senior Edwards - father
Robert Whyte - sister
Mrs. P. King- Father
J. Lynch-Campbell - father
Lincoln Molar - mother
Denva Chisholm - grandmother
Hubert Bent - mother
Robert Trottman - father
Samuel Bryan - father
Garth Stewart - brother
Felix Gordon - father
George & Daniel West -mother
We have just completed an eventful month that saw us as a nation celebrating forty years (40) of Independence. There were a number activities in which the Brigade participated at the planning stage, manning emergency stations at different events and being represented on the Independence Day Parade at Kings House. In each instance we displayed the level of discipline expected from an organization with the noble traditions that we strive to uphold. Well done!
As we look ahead we are saddened that very soon it will be the anniversary of the infamous attack on the World Trade Centre in New York 11 September 2001. Once again we extend condolence to the families of all the firefighters and security personnel who fell and pledge solidarity with all firefighters internationally.
Finally we once again extend an invitation for you to support the news letter through your articles and other submissions and to visit the Brigades web site at:
Back issues of this newsletter are also available on the side. Looking forward to hearing from you.