OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Aware that the loud sounds and flurry of activity that come with a fire can be especially traumatic for individuals with special needs, firefighters from the Area Two Division have provided fire safety tips for 108 residents of the Mustard Seed Communities-run facility, Jacob’s Ladder.
“We understand that because of their disabilities the sound of a fire truck and fire alarm can trigger them in a negative way, so our visit also was to give them a chance to know what the truck looks like, how it sounds, and also to see how the firefighters are dressed so they are not alarmed when they see us,” assistant commissioner in charge of Area Two, Julian Davis-Buckle told the Jamaica Observer.
“Also, when they hear the fire alarm they don’t get hysterical; they actually know how to react, and in a timely manner,” she added.
She led 55 firefighters on a visit to Jacob’s Ladder on Wednesday as part of the annual Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week which ran from October 23 to 29 this year.
“We did our drills and such, which were not bad at all, but we will continue to visit and work on that. We also have trained wardens at the institution so they can be able to help before we get there,” Davis-Buckle said.
“The firefighters were happy to be there and it was a humbling and calm experience — we were especially happy because the children enjoyed themselves,” she added.
Assistant administrator at Jacob’s Ladder, Kadian Drake was thankful for the visit which was a combination of fire safety tips and treats for residents. Both groups, she said, benefited from the experience.
“Some of the firefighters would have been seeing residents with certain disability for the first time but that did not deter them from coming to have a fun-filled day. The residents were treated with respect and dignity; they had a lot of fun and the sessions were educational,” she told the Observer.
Residents received haircuts, manicures and pedicures as well as warm meals before ending the day watching a live concert.
“We didn’t want to just go in, talk to them, and leave; we wanted to interact with them so they know that we care and we don’t just come around when there is an emergency,” said Davis-Buckle.
During Fire and Life Safety Awareness Week 2022 fire departments across the island visited various facilities and educated individuals about fire prevention and safety. Special focus was placed on vulnerable groups this year.
“This year’s theme is ‘Preserving the nation through life safety and fire prevention’, and our mission is to educate them on how is it that they can get out safely in case of an emergency,” said Davis-Buckle.