OCHO RIOS, St. Ann: The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development has committed support to the families of the two firefighters who died in a motor vehicle crash in St. Ann on September 13.
“I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that their families receive the best possible support. We will do what is necessary to ensure that the families are not too stressed too much in terms of all that is necessary,” stated Minister Desmond McKenzie during a visit to the Ocho Rios Fire Station in St. Ann on September 17.
“I am giving them the full assurance that I will work closely with the Commissioner (of Fire Stewart Beckford) to ensure that that is done.”
Young firefighters Alex Williams and Stephan Walters died in a crash along the Laughlands Main Road, St. Ann after transporting another colleague home. The men had just ended their work shift at the Ocho Rios Fire Station.
“This is a tragedy in every sense. They were young, hardworking Firefighters. When you put their ages together, it amounts to less than fifty years. I have been meeting with Stefan and Alex’s relatives and assured them of the prayerful support of the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” Commissioner Beckford said at the time of their passing.
The Minister also used the visit to express sympathies to the colleagues of the late firefighters. He added that the incident has highlighted the need for logistical support to firefighters working long hours to mitigate against further loss of life.
“I think the occasion is right to engage the leadership of the brigade in some discussion as to how we treat with situations that will prevent firefighters after completing long shifts to get home without them having to be sitting behind a wheel and driving, It is a discussion that has already started with the Commissioner and I intend to have the Board (of Directors) engage some more to see how this can be done.”
Assistant Commissioner in charge of Area 2, Julian Davis-Buckle, who was present during Minister McKenzie’s visit, also shared that the colleagues of Firefighters Williams and Walters have been undergoing grief counselling through the kind efforts of the Ministers Fraternal in the parishes of St. Ann and St. Mary.