Officers participate in fire management training in Jamaica

Corporal Marline Carr-Henry and Yohann Johnson from the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda/Fire Department
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Two officers from the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda (RPFAB) participated in a regional wildland fire management training course in Jamaica from June 19-27.

The United States Forest Service (USFS), through its Natural Infrastructure for Caribbean Resilience (NICaR) programme, conducted the training to strengthen regional capacity for bush fire management with 35 firefighters from 13 Caribbean countries.

With funding from the Department of State, a comprehensive series of wildland fire training courses was delivered through the programme’s NICaR Wildland Fire Management Academy at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus.

The academy, the first of its kind in the region, has been implemented in response to the need for greater collaboration around fire prevention and management, especially for wildland fires. This is particularly important in the context of climate change, which results in more frequent and intense fire weather conditions and increased risk for wildfires.

The acquired knowledge and skills will contribute to the region’s overall resilience against the increasing challenges posed by wildfires.

The academy featured interactive workshops, practical field exercises and simulations, covering topics such as wildland environment components, human performance concepts, fireline construction and tools, as well as communication methods.

The 13 participating countries included Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and The Bahamas.

“My experience has been eye-opening and I am grateful for the opportunity to be afforded this training,” commented Yohann Johnson, a Corporal in the RPFAB/Fire Department.

Corporal Marline Carr Henry, meanwhile, acknowledged the importance of the training in conserving government resources to combat wildland fires.

“It was quite informative to be part of the wildland fire academy, I can see how effective the information received can assist in suppressing fires and making it less of a financial burden to our government,” she said.

Political and Economic Counsellor and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy, Nicole Weber, expressed continued support for the initiative while commending the network the academy has established.

“We definitely want to continue to support these regional initiatives. I think that we should all continue to work together,” she said.

“I know that we will look at every opportunity to support these collaborative initiatives because as everyone has now mentioned, climate change is here to stay unfortunately, and we are going to be facing increasing challenges with dealing with wildland fire management and we need to all work together for the future of all of us and our children.”

A major outcome of the training is the establishment of a Caribbean Wildland Fire Group that will contribute to standardising approaches to wildland fire prevention and management and building capacity to improve the region’s overall adaptation to climate change.

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