Wed | Apr 8, 2020

Trelawny down to one fire truck

Published:Wednesday | September 11, 2019 | 12:11 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer
The state-of-the-art Falmouth Fire Station is seen in this 2007 photo. Then fire chief Dolphin Doman said the building was built to modern international standards and the station would be equipped with high-tech equipment and with an emergency health department.

Western Bureau:

The Falmouth Fire Station – the only such facility in Trelawny, which has more than 33,000 homes and a number of large hotels – is woefully short of resources to effectively respond to emergencies across the entire parish.

The state-of-the-art facility, which was rebuilt at a cost of approximately $100 million ahead of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, when Trelawny hosted the opening ceremony, was then equipped with two fire trucks and two ambulances. At the time, the facility was hailed as a model for future construction of fire stations across the island. Twelve years later, it is facing a serious crisis as only one fire truck is operational and both ambulances are out of service.

When The Gleaner visited the fire station recently, the two ambulances were facing the wall instead of in the normal outward-facing position.

“Once you see the vehicle parked like that, it is an indication that it is out of service,” one firefighter explained, as he also pointed out some expanding cracks in the building.

Deputy Superintendent Patrick Robinson, who heads the Trelawny Fire Brigade, said the situation at the station reached crisis proportion three years ago when they lost one of the fire trucks and started having issues with the two ambulances.

“Three years ago, one of the trucks was on its way to Kingston for [maintenance]. It reached Ocho Rios and broke down, and is still in need of repairs,” Robinson told The Gleaner. “The two ambulances broke down and have not been repaired, so we have to depend on the hospital to come to our rescue when we need the services of an ambulance.”

With the crippling situation, fire trucks from neighbouring parishes are often called on to assist with emergencies, especially in the south Trelawny area.

Quizzed as to why the required repairs were not being done after three years, the Trelawny fire chief was reluctant to provide details.

“The answers you are seeking will come out at the next monthly meeting of the parish council (Trelawny Municipal Council) in my report,” said Robinson, who did not mask his displeasure with the current state of affairs.

In late May, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie announced a $10-million repair package for the fire station. However, the funds are yet to be made available. The scope of repair works were also not disclosed.