Fire Brigade seeks more powers

October 20, 2016
A fire fighter carries out cooling down operations at a local cooking gas operation behind a home on Jacques Avenue in Mountain View, St Andrew on Sunday.
Emilio Ebanks

The Jamaica Fire Brigade is pushing for amendments to the Jamaica Fire Brigade Act to make certain that persons who are permitted to sell cooking gas ensure that their subcontractors carry out business in non-residential areas.

One man was killed and four others hospitalised on Jacques Avenue in eastern Kingston on Sunday evening when a cooking gas cylinder detonated at an illegal refilling plant.

According Emilio Ebanks, head of communications for Jamaica Fire Brigade, the amendments will allow the fire brigade to deem certain situations as being a life-safety hazard. It will also give the brigade power to to shut down the establishments.

"A legal operator will have a permit from the fire brigade, but what happens is that the legal operators have subcontractors who do not always have licences, which would mean that the necessary agencies would not have approved the location of the these entities," Ebanks said.

The Fire Brigade Act allows the commissioner or an officer in charge to take any measure that may appear, in the circumstances, to be necessary for the protection of life and property, among other things.

Ebanks is also calling on citizens to report incidents that might cause fire hazard.

"One of the first things I want residents to understand is that we have a responsibility to ourselves to protect ourselves. No regulations would allow such operations to take place. So once you see gas filling, gas distribution in your community, you should recognise that it is an illegal operation, and as such you should take the decision not to support them," Ebanks said.

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