Fireboats in Jamaica

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The Jamaican Fire Brigade operates several fireboats of Jamaica.[1] According to a 2003 article in the Jamaica Gleaner the three fireboats then nominally operated by the Fire Brigade were all in a state of disrepair, and had all been out of service for months—or in the case of one vessel—years. According to another Gleaner article the stations were dangerously over-run with rats and other vermin.[2]

In 2005 the Jamaica Star reported that after the fireboat assigned to the Kingston Fire Boat Station had been out of service for most of 2004—being sent for repair four separate times, the staff were assigned to other duties when the fireboat was placed permanently offline.[3]

By 2012, the fire station that served Montego Bay, Jamaica's second most important port, had been without a fireboat for over five years, as the previous boat had been written off as not worth repairing, but had yet to be replaced.[4]

Both the mayor of Montego Bay, Glendon Harris, and Jamaica Senator Robert Montague have called for the urgent supply of new fireboats.[4][5]

In November 2013 Alrick Hacker a Senior Deputy Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, defended the Brigade's replacement plans and outlined the interim measures in place until the new boats were in service.[6] Jamaica's three new Jamaican Coast Guard patrol cutters all mount a water cannon in their bow, and Hacker said the Coast Guard had been requested to help out until the Brigade's new fireboats were ready. He said the Police Marine units also had some firefighting capability, and they too had been asked to help out. He asserted that modern cruise ships, the foreign vessels of most acute concern, were built more fire-safe than in the past, and had the capability to fight their own fires, to a certain extent.

Hacker asserted that new technology would allow the Fire Brigade to replace their older, relatively large vessels with smaller, faster, more capable vessels, that would be cheaper to operate and to maintain.[6]

In 2018 the Fire Brigade acquired two new fireboats.[7] A newly reconstructed fire station was officially opened at Montego Bay, on December 12, 2018.[8] That station houses two road-based fire engines, and a new fireboat.[9]


  1. "All three vessels in disrepair". Jamaica Gleaner. 2003-04-14. Archived from the original on 2004-12-21. Retrieved 2013-12-11. "All three fire boats serving Jamaican ports are in disrepair, leaving the coastal areas without fire-fighting facilities." 
  2. Erica James-Smith (2003-04-14). "Fire boat station infested with rats". Jamaica Gleaner. Archived from the original on 2003-04-18. Retrieved 2013-12-11. ""To say the physical infrastructure has deteriorated is an understatement," Leonard Wilson, senior organiser with the University and Allied Workers' Union (UAWU) told The Gleaner. "The Brigade has been told at meetings time and time again, over five years now, that persons at the fireboat station are being molested by rodents and are facing other grave difficulties."" 
  3. "Ill-equipped: Fire Stations across the nation lack necessary tools". Jamaica Star. 2005. Archived from the original on 2005-11-22. Retrieved 2013-12-11. "When THE STAR visited the Fire Boat Station, the representative said they are currently without a boat, thus unable to respond to any fire that should arise. He said the boat was repaired several times last year, then it went out of commission in January." 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Christopher Thomas (2012-04-25). "MoBay's mayor bats for fire boat". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 2013-12-11. ""The fire boat is something that I've been passionate about and have been speaking about for more than five years now," said Harris. "We had one that needed repairs and representation was made to have it repaired but it never was. "The boat then had another accident, which rendered it useless," continued Harris. "At this stage, we need a new fire boat."" 
  5. "Where are the fire boats?". Jamaican Observer. 2012-04-14. Archived from the original on 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2013-12-11. "Montague, tabling questions for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Senator A J Nicholson in the Senate, enquired about the number of fire boats which were functioning as at the start of January this year and the end of March this year. He also wanted to know whether a fire boat is operational in Ocho Rios, Port Antonio, Kingston, and Montego Bay and if not, the length of time these have been out of circulation, the estimated cost of repairs for each and the timeline for those repairs." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Alicia Dunkley-Willis (2013-11-07). "Jamaica to get more fire boats". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2013-12-11. ""It is the understanding between us and the marine police and the coastguards once these kinds of calls come in they will respond to our base. Our equipment and persons are still there. If we look at it most of the marine police stations tend to be beside fire boat stations," he told Observer editors and reporters." 
  7. "Jamaica Fire Brigade gets trucks, boats and pumper tankers". Jamaican Observer. 2018-04-18. Archived from the original on 2018-04-18. Retrieved 2018-10-05. "The units include two firefighting boats, two fire engines and two pumper tankers. The firefighting boats are to be assigned to the parishes of Kingston and St James — the latter to serve the western part of the island." 
  8. "We are not fire observers, declares new JFB commissioner". Loop Jamaica. 2018-12-31. Retrieved 2019-01-02. "He was addressing the official opening of Montego Bay's new fire boat station and the commissioning into service of two brand new fire units and a fire boat." 
  9. "Work to begin on MoBay fire brigade headquarters in early 2019 - Davis". Loop Jamaica. 2018-12-31. Retrieved 2019-01-02. "Speaking at the official opening ceremony of Montego Bay's new fire boat station and the handing over of two fire-trucks and a fire boat at Montego Bay, St James on Friday, Davis said the acquisition of the boat and the pending commencement of construction of the Barnett Street headquarters augur well for fire safety in the parish."