The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has received equipment from the United States Embassy in Kingston to strengthen its capacity.
Valued at over $30 million, the first responder equipment includes 42 fire proximity suits, 244 fire proximity gloves, 27 fire boots, 10 coveralls, 360 bed nets, 18 cots, 60 axes, 60 shovels, six rakes and two large military-grade tents. These will be distributed to the 34 fire stations across 13 divisions of the JFB islandwide.
The donation was made by the United States Southern Command Humanitarian Assistance Programme Office, through the United States Embassy in Kingston.
The handover ceremony was held on Monday (July 15) at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, Hagley Park Road in Kingston.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, expressed his gratitude for the equipment, which he said will go a far way in saving lives.
“We are a grateful nation. It is of importance that when we ask the men and women of the Jamaica Fire Brigade to put their lives on the line that we do so by providing the necessary equipment to enable them to perform their duties,” he said.
“The Government has spared no expense in providing the requisite support to maintain the JFB. On behalf of the Government and the people of Jamaica, we express our thanks and appreciation. These equipment will come in handy and I know that you will use it to the best of your ability and continue to uphold the high standards you have set,” the Minister told the JFB members in attendance.
For his part, Chargé d’Affaires, United States Embassy, Eric Khant, said the United States Government remains a committed partner in strengthening Jamaica’s capacity to counter man-made and natural disasters.
“The relevance of the nation’s first responders never dissipate or wane. The need is always great, as no one can ever tell when a disaster will strike. The United States believes in Jamaica’s future and we are committed to working with Jamaican partners, as well as international partners, to ensure when a disaster strikes, Jamaica is fully prepared to manage that disaster and minimise the devastation,” he said.
Mr. Khant reiterated the United States Government’s continued support in enhancing Jamaica’s disaster risk mitigation plans, pledging US$5 million towards the effort.
He noted that a joint exercise by members of the District of Columbia National Guard, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) was recently conducted. This was one of several initiatives to improve Jamaica’s disaster response. It focused on real time, on-the-ground response to a major earthquake event.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner, JFB, Warren Malcolm, said the United States Embassy has been a very important partner of the JFB and has contributed to the growth and development of the Jamaica fire service.
“Their assistance over the years has assisted the Brigade tremendously in increasing our inventory of tools and equipment and even enhancing our capabilities by way of training opportunities from which the JFB has benefited, mainly in the areas of fire-fighting, rescue operations and hazardous materials response,” he noted.