Current Affairs

Current Affairs



Bertram again announces plan to repair fire stations

Observer Reporter
Monday, December 17, 2001

LOCAL Government Minister Arnold Bertram says he wants to computerise the fire service next year and, for the second time in just over 18 months, announced his intention to upgrade the island's 33 fire stations.

Last Saturday, at the graduation of 54 new firefighters at the G C Foster College in St Catherine, Bertram was unable to put a price tag on the computerisation or repair programmes. However, he said the money for the computers will be provided through an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which gives technological support to local authorities.

"I want to make sure that every member of the Fire Brigade is made computer literate, and this will be done through providing computers to our fire stations," Bertram said in his address to the graduates.

He added that the computerisation programme will begin at the York Park Fire Station in Kingston.
Bertram said that neither the firefighters nor the administration were satisfied with the state of Jamaica's fire stations and announced that next year, "very necessary repairs" will be made to the fire stations.

However, in May 2000, Bertram had announced a $117-million plan to overhaul and invigorate the island's fire service. Part of that plan, Bertram told Parliament in the sectoral debate, was the upgrading of fire stations across the island.

The plan was apparently an extension of the upgrading programme that began under Bertram's predecessor, Roger Clarke, and included the introduction of new equipment and broadening of training opportunities.

On Saturday, Bertram told his audience that great strides had been made in equipping the fire brigade and pointed to eight trucks donated last August by the Japanese government, as well as two others presented by the United States government.

He also suggested that citizens and the private sector give assistance to the fire service because the repairs planned by the administration could not be funded by tax dollars only.

"I would like to see the private sector and the communities bond more in a supportive way with the fire brigade stations by establishing themselves as friends of the fire stations, because the tax payers will never be able to fund in its entirety what we want to do," the minister said.

He encouraged the graduates to be role models to their communities and praised the firefighters who trained them.

The most outstanding graduate, Mark Hay, was presented the symbolic yellow helmet, while Oliver Sewell was voted the best first aider. Rayon Bagaloo copped the academic award and Horace Sommerville walked away with the award for best practical skills.