Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Too ‘hot’ to handle

Manchester deputy fire chief calls for greater partnership with JCF, stakeholders

Published:Tuesday | February 15, 2022 | 12:09 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

FOLLOWING AN increase in their response activities since January, deputy superintendent of the Manchester Fire Brigade, Rohan Powell, said there needs to now be greater collaboration with the police and other stakeholders to prevent and eliminate road accidents, among other incidents.

“We are having continuous increase in the number of calls that we have to respond to (for) sand spills, among other things on the Melrose Bypass and Spur Tree. The overladen trucks are creating a nightmare and posing a hazard to vehicular traffic,” Powell said.

He added that oil spills from vehicles that have to stop for servicing on the roadway are another cause for concern.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of accidents (as a result). Thankfully, we have not had any fatalities from them but we don’t want to get to that point. So we definitely need to work with the JCF to see how we can alleviate that situation.”

Commanding officer of the Manchester Police, Superintendent Lloyd Darby, told The Gleaner that he is aware of some of the issues and welcomes a collaboration with the fire station.

“We know that driver behaviour is the principal cause of accidents generally, and so we have our regular checks that are done. Anytime our investigations show that someone is to be prosecuted for any breach of the Road Traffic Act that results in accident, we will be charging.”

With an uptick in truck accidents along the Spur Tree main road, Darby cautioned drivers to be mindful of practices that will help them better manoeuvre the roadway.

“For decades, Spur Tree has been a hotspot for truck accidents, whether thy have load or are empty. We find that the trucks that get out of control and crash there are from the Corporate Area and it is presumed that they don’t know the road. They have to engage a low gear from the top of the hill.”

Meanwhile, Powell is calling on individuals to be mindful of their use of fire, as several persons continue to lose their property as a result of negligence.

“For the month of January, we responded to over 63 calls, and 43 were genuine. There were eight major incidents that we attended to ... .”


A few of the major incidents Powell mentioned were: a burnt-out commercial building and a four-apartment dwelling in Far Enough district which left four adults and 8 children homeless , a motor vehicle fire in George Reid district on January 14 , a restaurant fire on Ward Avenue on January 2, and a six-apartment dwelling house in Malton that left two adults homeless.

With a significant number of these major fires happening in the Northeast Manchester constituency, Powell is calling on the stakeholders there to help the fire services facilitate training sessions.

“Councillors, you know your areas. Invite us to the particular spaces and so we can provide training for persons on the ground, so that we can mitigate some of these circumstances. I am tired of seeing 10 and 15 family members left homeless on a regular basis , because of poor practices as it relates to fire.”

However, councillor of the Craighead division in that constituency, Omar Miller, said it is not just a misuse of fire that has caused the incidents, but an issue of electrification, as several persons appear to be off the grid.

“Sometimes it is a candle burnt out or poor wiring, because they opt to take on the responsibility of energising their premises. I want to appeal to Minister McKenzie, that there are too many persons off the grid who want to be on the grid and there is a system in place and we have not done enough over the last four years to get people on to this system.”

He indicated that, as the demands for electricity grow, people will continue to find ways, even against their own safety and the law, to get the commodity.

With the Rural Electrification Programme now under the Ministry of Local Government, chairman of the corporation Mayor Donovan Mitchell, reported that there will be a fulsome discussion on the matter when next mayors and corporations’ CEOs meet with Minister Desmond McKenzie at the end of the month.