Jamaican cadets curtail fire disaster
BUFF BAY – The quick action of cadets Jamar Briscoe and Jovanne McLean averted the destruction of a 109-year-old building in Buff Bay, Portland, which houses a bar, photo studio, hairdressing parlour, barber shop, and a dwelling house.
Briscoe, a 19-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Mission Cadet Force, and his 22-year-old captain McLean were conducting training at the Bradford Preparatory School last month, when they heard shouts that a building was on fire.
“We were here conducting training and we heard the shout that ‘Bigga Reid building ah burn down’ and so I called to second lieutenant Briscoe that we should go up there,” McLean recounted.
He explained further that when they arrived a lot of smoke was pouring out of the building.
“I told Briscoe to go in through the window as he was in his combatant uniform. I asked where the breaker was as there was a lot of smoke coming from the roof and so I assumed it was an electrical fire,” he said.
On finding the breaker McLean, who is also an electrician, said he immediately locked it off.
“I then pushed Briscoe through the window and he went on the roof and started to lift the zinc and started using his hand and some ackee bush to put out the fire. We asked for water and persons got some water in buckets and we used it along with the bush to out the fire,” he told the Jamaica Observer North-East. By the time they were through, the young men said the fire trucks had arrived to assist with the cooling down process.
In recounting the experience, Briscoe said there was a lot of smoke coming from the roof of the building by the time they got there.
“Someone said it was a short circuit and we found the breaker and locked it off as we think it was electrical because of the smoke,” he told the Observer North East.
He explained further: “We saw some fire coming out from the board as it was bubbling, so I took a bucket of water and throw on it. We went through a window and went on the roof and started lifting the zinc and putting out the fire which was under it. People started shouting fire! fire! fire! As there was no fire truck and some people started to panic, I asked for some water and when I lifted the zinc; it was under total fire.”
“It took them a while to get the water so I had to break some bush from an ackee tree nearby to out the fire and I started to beat it out as there was no fire truck. The zinc was very hot and it burn my hand and I got scorched but I had to use my hand to lift the zinc and use the water to throw under it,” Briscoe added.
The young men said they were able to assist because of the training they received as cadets.
Briscoe said he wants to go in the infantry having joined the cadet while a student at Buff Bay High School.
McLean, a past student of Port Antonio High said he wanted to pursue an Associate degree in electrical engineering.
Briscoe and McLean said they were happy to have been able to assist in saving the building as they were “just there to control the fire until the fire truck came”.
An official at the Buff Bay Fire Service who spoke on condition of anonymity said the fire personnel could not have arrived any earlier as their truck was out of service and they had to await a unit from Annotto Bay. (Jamaica Observer)