Jamaica, 2012

From April 31st to the 14th of May, GlobalFire team members provided capacity building support to the Government of Jamaica’s fire service in the form of training in both Hazardous Materials Response and Fire Cause determination as well as the delivery and dissemination of approximately $150,000 CDN worth of fire equipment.  Training took place in the nation’s capital Kingston and additionally in the historic port town of Falmouth in the parish of Trelawny near Montego Bay in the island’s west end.  In total 22 students graduated the Hazardous Materials Response course, adding 25% capacity to the island’s response capabilities, and 25 students graduated the Fire Cause Determination course.  

Both courses lasted 4 days and included both a didactic portion and a hands on practical component to cement ideas learned in class.  In addition GlobalFire was able to create practical local solutions to response protocols for the Haz-Mat program which will be implemented island wide. With limited specific resources we were able to use already available equipment on board all JFB apparatus such as tarps and fire hose to create an emergency decon system that evolves into a 2 pond technical decon corridor with very little work.  This equipment, if it cannot be decontaminated at the end of the event, can be lost to the organization with a huge cost impact.  Trucks can be put back into service almost immediately.

The Fire Cause Determination course is particularly important as the JFB is suffering from loss of faith by the public due to repetitive findings of “undetermined” as it relates to fire cause.  Every news report has streams of angry citizens questioning the capabilities of the Brigade which impacts all aspects of brigade business from acceptance of fire safety messages to public support during budget proceedings.  The improvement of the professional image of the organization even impacts recruitment efforts.

As for the equipment donation delivery portion of the capacity building mission there are 3 key components to report on.  The 100 sets of bunker gear donated by Muskoka Lakes will be utilized by the new recruits being hired.  This allows for the students to actually take part in live fire fighting drills as well as become comfortable with wearing the gear at all calls, something that doesn’t normally occur as bunker gear, due to its cost, is assigned following completion of all training before recruit is assigned to their station.  232 fire textbooks were donated by the Ontario Fire Marshal Resource Centre in Gravenhurst at the Fire College which were warmly received and will be utilized by the Training Department to create a library of books which can be checked out by any and all members of the JFB.  The 3rd point is one on a personal note.  During a previous training mission in 2008 GlobalFire Team Lead Greg Law had made a promise to secure and deliver a smoke machine which was to be used by the Fire Prevention Division in the public education endeavours for the teaching of school children in evacuation drills.  We are happy to report it is in use today.