History

The Fire Service in Jamaica was established in October 1871 with the formation of the Kingston Fire Brigade to satisfy the need for a trained and equipped Fire Service to be responsive to growth in housing, industrial and commercial developments in Kingston following a spate of large fires which had ravaged sections of the City's commercial sectors. Operating from Sutton Street in downtown Kingston, the Brigade was then comprised of a horse-drawn steam pump and a small number of men under the command of a Scotsman - Alexander McFarlane. As the City grew, the need for wider fire coverage gave rise to the first sub-station, Half-Way-Tree, which opened in the late 1930s. In keeping pace with the developments a new Headquarters, York Park was opened in November 1944 housing at the time sixty-nine men, six firefighting vehicles and a utility car. Operating under the aegis of the Kingston and St. Andrew Fire Brigade (KSA) Act, the KSA Fire Brigade was primarily for "...the protection of life and property from the ravages of fire within the limits of the Corporate area ..." The rural Parishes in the Island were not without their own defence against fire hazards and under the Parochial Fire Brigade Act twelve Parish Fire Brigades were established at various times in St. Catherine - 1933, St. Elizabeth - 1934, Portland - 1936, St. James - 1942, St. Mary - 1948, St. Ann - 1951, Trelawny and Hanover - 1957, St. Thomas, Clarendon and Manchester - 1958, and Westmoreland - 1961. These thirteen dis-joined Parish Brigades were all funded by Central Government but continued as fragmented parochial entities. It was always the perception in the post-independence years that for greater cost effectiveness, more efficient fire coverage, greater command and control, among other things, the fragmented Brigades should all be re-organised, unified and made answerable to one central command. Steps to bring about this unification were finally taken in October of 1988 with the passing of the Fire Brigade Act which repealed the Kingston and St. Andrew Fire Brigade Act and the Parochial Fire Brigade Act "....and established in and for (all) Jamaica a national Fire Service (thereafter) to be called the Jamaica Fire Brigade..." - one unified, national organization unfettered by parochial restrictions.

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