Fri | Oct 15, 2021

Local Government Minister offers support to grieving Ocho Rios firefighters

Published:Saturday | September 18, 2021 | 5:09 PM
Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie (right) and Assistant Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, Julian Davis-Buckle, in discussion at the Ocho Rios Fire Station in St Ann on September 17, 2021 – Carl Gilchrist.

Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie on Friday visited firefighters at the Ocho Rios Fire Station in St Ann to offer condolences to the men and women who recently loss two of their colleague in a motor vehicle crash.

Alex Williams and Stefan Walters had dropped off a colleague at his home in Runaway Bay and were heading back towards Ocho Rios when the car crashed into another that was heading in the opposite direction along the Laughland main road. 

McKenzie committed to ensuring that the two men get a fitting funeral.   

“I know two young men have gone and we have to ensure, like I said before, that their memories live on. I am committing myself as the minister to ensure that I do everything that is within my power to see to it that they have a fitting farewell,” McKenzie told the firefighters who were on duty at the time. 

Describing the circumstances that led to the deaths as “very unfortunate”, McKenzie said it has brought a cloud of darkness not only to personnel in Ocho Rios but other firefighters across Jamaica.

He said the time is right to begin to look into the issue of transportation for firefighters.

“I think the occasion is right to engage the leadership of the brigade in some discussion as to how we can treat with situations that will prevent firefighters, after completing long shifts, to get home without them have to be sitting behind a wheel and drive. It is a discussion that has already started with the commissioner and I intend to have the board engage some more to see how best this can be done. We are not offering any token because two lives have been lost, but we are saying let us help to mitigate against any further loss of life under those circumstances,” the minister stated. 

Additionally, McKenzie is proposing an honour roll, similar to what exists in some other organisations, to pay respect to workers in the fire brigade.

He has also pledged to give the Ocho Rios Fire Station a facelift. 

“I have toured the location but as a mark of respect and to show some gratitude we will, as soon as the necessary estimates are completed, we will have some facelifting of the location to allow those who are here to come into an environment that is conducive and at least take away some of the daily challenges they face working here.” 

- Carl Gilchrist 

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