While Dancehall artistes, event promoters, and fans are reveling in the fact that they can now “party till the cows come home,” the Commissioner of the Jamaica Fire Brigade has warned them to be extremely careful as the majority of entertainment venues have been found to be unfit.
According to Commissioner Stewart Beckford, of the 1,019 facilities inspected across the island, between January and November, only 140 were able to be certified as ‘fit for use.’
Speaking at a quarterly press briefing of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Commissioner said among the deficiencies are a lack of fire alarms, smoke and heat detectors, and exit and emergency signs.
He said many of the venues have no alternative exits, on either the ground or upper floors, and in some cases, the alternative exits were blocked; there were no fire extinguishers and no signs stating the carrying capacity of the buildings.
He said in Kingston, which is a Creative City of Music as declared by UNESCO, of the 308 recorded places of amusement, only 38 (12 percent) are certified as fit for hosting events.
Over in St. Catherine, he said of the 215 places of amusement on record, only 14 (7 percent) are certified. In another of the most populous parishes, St. James, of the 109 places of amusement, only 49 are certified, with 60 being uncertified.
The Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie has since said that a comprehensive list of entities that are in breach and are committing transgressions such as operating without licenses and permits, would be published in the newspapers in the future.
The Minister told the media that a high-level meeting would also be held to discuss further punitive actions that can be taken against errant venue owners.