JFB to set up bush fire warning system
Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has received 33 computers from the Meteorological Service to support the establishment of a Bush Fire Warning Index to track, manage and record bush fires.
The computers were procured at a cost of $4,186,609.44, through funding under the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) programme.
The Warning Index will act as a predictive tool to encourage pre-emptive action and prevent fires from destroying forests, farms and the livelihoods of families across the country.
The computers, which will be distributed throughout the JFB islandwide network, will have special software, supported with Global Positioning System (GPS), which will allow for effective database management and assist with proper identification of bush fire locations.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, said that the warning index is “a strategic and critical move” given the increase in bush fires due to extremely dry and hot conditions being experienced across the island.
He said information from the JFB is showing that “the already unprecedented numbers for June 2019 are being surpassed by the statistics for July”.
“It is also being revealed that the parishes recording the majority of these bush fires are St. Ann, St. Mary and St. Catherine, which happen to be the same parishes experiencing the most severe drought conditions at this time,” he noted, while addressing the handover of the computers at the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s offices in Kingston on Wednesday (July 31)
Meanwhile, the Minister informed that the JFB will be outfitted with additional fire-fighting equipment.
Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, for his part, said that the Bush Fire Warning Index represents a collaboration between local and international partners and will help to boost the capacity of the JFB.
He noted that focus will be placed on strengthening public education in relation to bush fires, as part of the natural disaster and emergency response mechanisms.
“We are seeing bush fires in many parishes now. It is going to be critical that the public education about bush fires be upgraded so we can send this message right across the island because the entire country is suffering from the changes in our environment,” Minister McKenzie said.