Jamaica — The high incidence of bush fires in the parish of Hanover duringthe dry season, has prompted the Hanover division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade toembark on a major public education campaign.
This drive began in the middle of January, with a view to encouraging residentsof the parish to adopt good fire safety practices.
According to Acting Divisional Head of the Jamaica Fire Brigade in Hanover,Paul Hibbert, it is fast approaching the traditional dry season, which isusually characterized by a lot of bush fires.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Hibbert explained that bush fires areperennial, and as is the custom, “we have been advising persons by variousmeans in order to see if we can get them to embrace good fire safety practices.We have gone to farmers and their groups, we have made the announcement atParish Council meetings, our Fire Prevention Officers are at schools, workplacesnon-governmental organizations and other places, reiterating that persons shoulddesist from starting bush fires.”
He said that the public education campaign would be carried out until April,the period in which most bush fires occur in the parish. He pointed out thatbetween January to December 2007 approximately 276 genuine fire calls werereceived and responded to by his division, with 159 of them being bush fires,and that 117 of these occurred between February and April.
Mr. Hibbert said that of the 407 calls that were received by the firedivision under his control in 2007, some 82 were for special services, 276 weregenuine fire calls, 18 false alarms with good intent, and 31 malicious falsealarms. He said that the parish suffered a loss of $381.8 million for the year,due to property fires.
The statistics further show that there was one death, 54 injury cases and 41persons (27 adults and 14 children) were left homeless as a direct result ofthese fires.
“We would want the people of the parish to be more conscious, especiallyin the farming areas where you find farmers using fire to clear land, to stopthis practice,” he said.
Mr. Hibbert pointed out that in many instances, the practice leads to the lossof property, inclusive of homes, and even lives.