Jamaica Fire Brigade delivers Wildland Fire Investigation Training in Antigua & Barbuda

District Officer Christopher Brown engaging participants at the Wildland Fire Investigation Training.

Jamaica Fire Brigade delivers Wildland Fire Investigation Training in Antigua & Barbuda

The Jamaica Fire Brigade recently visited Antigua and Barbuda to deliver a wildland/bush fire investigation training in collaboration with the United States Forest Service (USFS), through its Natural Infrastructure for Caribbean Resilience (NICaR) programme.

The training was conducted in Wildland Fire Investigation for key stakeholders in the country. It focused on Wildland Fire Observations and Origin Scene Protection for First Responders, the first of its kind in the country.

Delivered by five Wildland Fire Investigation instructors from the Jamaica Fire Brigade and USFS Fire Prevention Technician Dawn Sanchez, the training marked another first with it being presented by regional instructors.

The team of instructors from the fire brigade have been engaged in wildland fire investigation since 2018 and the level-one course engaged approximately 50 participants including representatives from the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, Wallings Nature Reserve Inc, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Ministry of Health and Environment, National Office of Disaster Services, Air Traffic Control Department, NGOs, and other organisations.

Inspector Yvette Henry, head of the Fire Prevention Unit at the Antigua and Barbuda Fire Prevention Department, lauded the training for enhancing the department’s fire investigative capabilities and public engagement efforts.

“The NICaR wildland fire investigation training was very informative. We learned a lot, including crucial details to look for in responding to wildland fires and insights into scene preservation. This training has equipped us to better identify the causes of fires and enhance public education on preventing wildland fires.

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime to be working together with our Caribbean colleagues from different cultures and backgrounds to achieve a common goal of protecting our forest from the destruction of wildland fires,” said Christopher Brown, district officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

Brown, who travelled to Antigua, further noted that the regional exchange “will only lead to strengthening our relationship by building trust and understanding through shared experiences and training”.

The training coincided with the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) meeting in Puerto Rico which was attended by Kevin Haughton, deputy commissioner in fire rescue operations for the Jamaica Fire Brigade, where he was elected vice president.

In speaking to the training, Haughton highlighted the impact of the knowledge exchange from a regional standpoint.

“The collaboration between the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the US Forest Service to deliver wildland fire investigation training in Antigua and Barbuda is a significant step for regional wildland fire investigation capacity,” Haughton said. “This initiative means that fire services in the Caribbean are adopting advanced techniques and knowledge from experts, in enhancing their ability to investigate and manage wildland fires effectively. This training not only improves the skill-set of local fire investigators, but also fosters a culture of knowledge sharing and professional development across the region. As a result, Caribbean fire services are better equipped to identify the causes of wildland fires, which is crucial for prevention and mitigation strategies.”

Haughton also commented that the training augured well for future regional partnerships.

“Additionally, it sets a precedent for future collaborative efforts in fire management across the Caribbean. By building a network of well-trained fire investigators, the region can develop more comprehensive and unified fire management strategies, leveraging collective resources and knowledge. This collaboration paves the way for continuous improvement and innovation in fire management practices, ultimately leading to a safer and more resilient Caribbean in the face of wildland fire threats.”

The regional training also builds on the hosting of the NICaR Wildland Fire Academy in Jamaica in 2023, where 35 fire-fighters from across 13 Caribbean countries were trained.

The NICaR Programme is implemented by the USDA Forest Service International Programs Office with support from the US Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs. NICaR supports 18 organidations across nine Caribbean countries through mangrove, upland forest restoration and disaster preparedness initiatives. In total grantees have received US$577,000 to implement resilience actions.

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