The Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) is reporting an increase in the number of bush fires between January and March 2020, in comparison to the corresponding period in 2019.
From 2016 to 2019, the number of bush fires across the country increased exponentially from 3,716 to 5,838.
In addition, for the first three months of 2020, the JFB recorded a total of 1,854 bush fires, a 15.8 percent increase above the 1,601 recorded for the same period in 2019.
“What we would have noticed is the dry period starting much earlier in 2019 than we had expected. We were told by the Met Service, pretty early on, that we should expect the same for 2020. Some adjustments were made, we would have gotten some new trucks in the system, so we were more prepared this time around,” public relations officer Emeleo Ebanks stated.
He continued: “We have a bush fire management programme that we were rolling out in some communities. We went in and educated persons as to what it is that they should not be doing. We started in St. Elizabeth because we have a lot of bush and agricultural fires in that parish, and we did some work in Clarendon and St. Catherine as well and we have a programme in Kingston and St. Andrew. The other parishes we were planning for this period that we are now in, we have had to postpone that due to COVID-19.”
While expressing hope that the work already done by the Brigade will result in a decline in the number of bush fires for the remainder of 2020, Ebanks is urging the public to remain vigilant.
“We are asking persons to monitor the children and the elderly. Do not ever leave the children alone and make sure that you know what it is that they are doing at all times if possible. Do not play with anything that can cause fires. Ensure that you are monitoring your cooking at all times,” Ebanks said.
He also encouraged persons who are cooking outdoors to “control that situation so that you do not have the embers blowing out into grass where they can cause bush fires.”
“Stay indoors as much as possible and let us all do our part in flattening the curve,” Ebanks pleaded.