Al­part re­open­ing to put fire ser­vices un­der more pres­sure

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­erjm.com

STAFF AT the Man­dev­ille Fire Sta­tion are fore­see­ing risks for res­i­dents as amid fur­ther re­source con­straints, stake­hold­ers pre­pare for the re­open­ing of the Al­part alu­minium plant in Nain, St El­iz­a­beth.

The Al­part plant is ex­pected to re­sume re­fin­ing op­er­a­tions in the 2016-2017 fi­nan­cial year, as was dis­closed by Min­is­ter of Trans­port and Min­ing Mike Henry dur­ing his con­tri­bu­tion to the 2016 Sec­toral De­bate in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on June 8.

Fol­low­ing the re­fin­ery’s clo­sure in 2009, the plant was re­opened on a re­duced pro­duc­tion sched­ule in 2010.

Ro­han Powell, act­ing deputy su­per­in­ten­dent for the Manch­ester di­vi­sion of the Ja­maica Fire Brigade, in­di­cated that while serv­ing the par­ishes of St El­iz­a­beth, Claren­don, St Ann, Trelawny, and Manch­ester, the fire ser­vice en­coun­ters se­vere con­straints daily. He noted that ur­gency was needed to im­prove the qual­ity of re­sources avail­able.

“Cur­rently, with what ex­ists, we are se­ri­ously chal­lenged. The parish of Manch­ester is so ge­o­graph­i­cally di­vided that travel time from Man­dev­ille town cen­tre to the far­thest points is se­ri­ously im­pacted. The Al­part plant falls be­tween us and the Junc­tion fire sta­tion. Even though it is in St El­iz­a­beth, we cover bor­ders,” he said as he ad­dressed jour­nal­ists dur­ing a Gleaner Jobs and Growth Fo­rum that was held re­cently at the Man­dev­ille Ho­tel.

“We are for­tu­nate to have for the past three months, two work­ing pumpers, and we are go­ing through a re­struc­tur­ing process in the ser­vice. How­ever, Manch­ester needs at least two more fire sta­tions. We need a fire sta­tion out at New­port (Manch­ester) and we need one in the Mile Gully (Manch­ester) area to ad­e­quately cover the Manch­ester area and to serve its en­vi­rons,” he con­tin­ued.

The su­per­in­ten­dent fur­ther stated that “now with all of these plans and the in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment, in ad­di­tion to the in­flux of peo­ple, lives will be at risk. We are talk­ing about the road­ways be­com­ing more con­gested, pos­si­bil­ity of more mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents and Al­part it­self bring­ing a whole new di­men­sion.”

Powell stressed that ac­cess to wa­ter, in ad­di­tion to sev­eral other fa­cil­i­ties, was needed to get the sta­tion to a sat­is­fac­tory level.

“We are first re­spon­ders to any­thing and all of these things, with the lim­ited re­sources, will be se­ri­ously chal­lenged. We our­selves are se­ri­ously chal­lenged from the point of workspace. In ser­vice train­ing, we don’t have the space. Ad­vanced life sup­port ser­vices for our staff are things that are needed,” he de­clared.

“Ac­cess to wa­ter is very se­ri­ous. You will pass a lot of fire hy­drants, but there is no wa­ter in them be­cause the wa­ter sys­tem is not favourable. We would love for a wa­ter tank to be placed specif­i­cally at the Man­dev­ille sta­tion. When we re­spond to in­ci­dents, we just go to cool down be­cause these per­sons would have lost ev­ery­thing by the time we got there. It takes an hour and 20 min­utes to get to some lo­ca­tions.”

Ro­han Powell, act­ing deputy su­per­in­ten­dent, Ja­maica Fire Brigade, Manch­ester Di­vi­sion.

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