JIS NEWS, Montego Bay: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says completion of the Barnett Street Fire Station in St. James is on track to be completed before the 12-month deadline.
Ground was broken for the facility in June of this year.
The Minister, who was speaking to journalists following a tour of the fire station site on September 12, said the project is running ahead of schedule and is not expected to exceed the budget.
He added that completion of the fire station will “solve the problem [of coverage] in Montego Bay, and the entire western part of the island”.
Construction of the fire station is being funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $534.9 million, and is being done under the organisation’s Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme (DVRP).
The DVRP initiative supports the Government’s overall thrust in strengthening climate and disaster risk management within the wider context of sustainable development. This includes construction of national priority infrastructure, such as fire stations.
The new fire station, which will have the capacity to house 200 firefighters, will replace the old Barnett Street facility that was demolished in 2006. Since then, firefighters have been operating from the Montego Freeport.
In the meantime, the Minister underscored the Government’s commitment to the improvement of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.
“[Since 2016], we have spent close to $800 million to improve the Fire Brigade, not just in terms of building out facilities but providing vital equipment to the men and women of the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” Mr. McKenzie said.
Two additional fire stations will be built at Port Maria in St. Mary and Yallahs in St. Thomas under the DVRP.
Mr. McKenzie pointed out that work is set to commence on the fire station in Port Maria by the end of October, and that Cabinet recently approved the contract for the construction of the facility in Yallahs.
“We are expecting that by the end of the next calendar year, the country will have three brand-new facilities to aid the firemen and firewomen across the country,” the Minister said.
For his part, Assistant Commissioner at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (Region Four), Floyd McLean, said the new facility in Montego Bay will help to boost staff morale.
“It is a good push, and I cannot wait until we occupy the building. It will also help us to better serve the community, knowing that we are settled and we do not have too much of the back and forth in respect to where we are,” Mr. McLean said.
The touring party included Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis; and Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney.