Project launched to reduce fire hazard in Children's homes
Following the deaths of several wards of the State in the nation's children homes, some critical stakeholders have stepped forward to fund a project aimed at reducing fire hazards in these facilities.
Supreme Ventures Foundation on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information to establish and fund the project. It includes the implementation of a basic fire safety programme as prescribed by the Jamaica Fire Brigade.
It will see the installation of fire-safety equipment, as well as the installation of relevant signage and evacuation maps for those homes showing the widest gaps. It will also include fire-safety education and training for the wards and key personnel such as house mothers.
Over the years, several children have died in fires while in the care of the State. Last year, 12-year-old Anika McCrea and 16-year-old Annakay Moreland died in a blaze at the Walker's Place of Safety. Seven girls perished in a fire at Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in May 2009.
Some 360 people have died in fires across the country in the past 10 years, 97 of which were children. That is according to data out of the Jamaica Fire Brigade. The most recent child fatalities are two-year-old twin girls, Nahelia and Nahalia Pinnock, who perished in a fire at their home in Grants Pen, St Andrew, on January 31.
Then Prime Minister Bruce Golding comforts Renae Richards at Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann days five girls were burnt to death in May 2009 at the home. Richards was 14 years old at the time.
"This partnership will, in fact, aid the GOJ to better meet the needs of the children who are coming into State care on a daily basis,” then state minister with responsibility for youth, Floyd Green, said.
Director of the Supreme Ventures Foundation, Heather Goldson, said that several audits and assessments were conducted, with results showing a significant gap in the fire-safety infrastructure in many of the homes. She emphasised the importance of ensuring that the nation’s children are kept safe.
CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), Rosalee Gage-Grey, says, “The CPFSA is grateful for the partnership to further strengthen our fire-safety standards governing the care and protection of children in our child care facilities. This MOU symbolises one of our key priorities of ensuring that our facilities are disaster-proof and equipped with the necessary tools to preserve life.
Fire destroyed the Walker's Place of Safety in January, 2018.