ROADBLOCK: Disgruntled residents of Rose Heights in Montego Bay, vented their anger at the police on Monday, blocking the roadway with burning tyres, a metal gate and garbage, as they protested Saturday’s arrest of a male member of the community by the lawmen. The police reportedly went to the area on Saturday to carry out an opera-tion in search of guns and criminals, when the man was held and arrested by them. However, residents were not pleased with the police’s action and mounted their protest. The Fire Brigade was called and a single unit from the Freeport Fire Station responded and put out the fire, while a law enforcement team cleared the roadway to allow for free passage of motor vehicles. – Shamir Brown Photo

The St. James Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade has seen an increase in emergency calls for the year 2018, compared with the previous year.

The report follows a total of 1,244 documented fire calls for the year 2018, a 5% increase from 2017, which recorded 1180.

In an interview with the Divisional Head of St. James, Superintendent Kevin Haughton, he stated that the total number of calls were not the greatest cause for concern. The increase in what are deemed as malicious false alarms, however, and genuine fire, warranted the Brigade’s attention.

Further research shows that this increment could be attributed to an escalation in actual fire calls, malicious false alarms, and special services offered/requested from the organization.

“Malicious false calls are calls made to the Brigade and upon reaching the location, there are no signs of a fire, while false alarm with good intent is basically a call made to the Brigade and on reaching the location, it is of a lesser severity than what was reported, or our services are no longer required,” Haughton stated.

The Superintendent went on to explain that special services are non-emergencies that the Brigade responds to, e.g. washing roads after a motor vehicle accident or a citizen who has been locked out of their premises and require assistance.

A total of 748 genuine calls were reported, a movement of 48 actual calls, up from 700, an increase of approximately 6.4%.

There were an additional 28 malicious false alarms for the year, up from 80, and the parish’s firefighters were called for a total of 331 special services, an additional 15 from 2017’s 316.

“We will be ramping up our public education programmes, especially in schools. The schools or students represent a wider cross-section of the communities, and by giving them the information, we are guaranteed it will reach within the homes and the communities at large,” stated the Divisional Head.

Superintendent Haughton is appealing for a greater fire consciousness from the parish, especially the perpetrators of these malicious false alarms. “Persons need to desist from this act as it adversely affects staff morale, especially from communities where there is a repeated offense.

We would definitely not want to have an instance of the boy who cried wolf,” the Superintendent said in closing.

Mavrick Wynter