Hanover native marks 25 years as firefighter – She blazed the trail for women in St. James and St. Elizabeth

Hanover native marks 25 years as firefighter – She blazed the trail for women in St. James and St. Elizabeth

October 15, 2020 0 By Horace Mills

Responding to a newspaper ad for emergency medical technicians (EMT) at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) has led Winsome Grant on a career path that spans 25 years, during which she has given outstanding service in saving lives and protecting properties.

When she applied for the job, Grant was employed as an agriculture specialist at Cascade Secondary Vocational School (now Merline Ottey High School) in her native Hanover.

“Having a family member in 1993 who died from cardiac arrest, and having the knowledge of what a paramedic is, attracted me to the JFB. I said I will be able to save lives,” she explained.

Grant, now a Senior Deputy Superintendent in the brigade, didn’t initially consider becoming a trained fire-fighter.

“I never knew we were going to be trained as firefighters, but, upon doing the assessment for entry, we were told that, in order for us to be EMTs, we had to go through the hardcore training first – and it was good,” she said.

At the completion of training, Grant initially was assigned to the Barnett Street Fire Station in 1995 as the first female firefighter in the St. James Division.

Under mentorship from various stalwarts in the organisation, Grant went on to pioneer various departments and programmes.

“I worked as an EMT at the Ironshore Fire Station for over 10 years,” she recalled. “I was transferred to Lucea to act as the person in charge of fire prevention for the parish for a year in 2011. Then I came back to St. James and was in charge of hydrant testing, inspection, maintenance and servicing. I was also the supervisor in the capacity of an Assistant Superintendent in charge of fire prevention for St. James.”

In 2018, Grant was transferred temporarily to the brigade’s headquarters to act for a year in the position of Deputy Superintendent (research and planning).

She later returned to St. James, where she did an assessment for the Divisional Commander position for St. Elizabeth and was successful. She is the first female to be assigned Commander for the St. Elizabeth Division.

“I feel so humbled, elated and blessed to be holding such a position,” said Grant, who, on 4 September 2020, celebrated her 25th anniversary in the JFB.

During her career, the native of Mt. Carmel district in Hanover, copped several national and regional awards.

She, in 2010, was declared Caribbean Firefighter of the Year.

“I am very committed to the communities, firefighters and civilian staff that I serve,” she declared.

Grant recounted that one of the proudest moments in her career was when she helped to save the life of a mother and her newborn.

She explained: “One moment that stood out in my mind throughout my career was being an EMT in 1998. We went into the Flanker community [in St. James], and there was a female who was in labour.

“It was a very awful situation where that person was coming down with a fit (seizure), and we were able to reassure the person and delivered the baby. When we went to the hospital, the emergency doctors commended us, because they said it was a life-and-death situation,” Grant further said.

She displays the same level of commitment to her community through several initiatives, such as being the Public Relations Officer for the 4-H Advisory Council and President of Youth Leaders, Hanover.

Grant is also a member of the Lucea Community Development Action Committee, and a member of the Jamaica Agricultural Society.

She served as Coordinator and founder of Jamaica’s first Fire And Life Safety Camp in 2010.That was done in honour of the seven girls who died in a fire at the Armadale facility in St. Ann.

Grant, who underscored the importance of fire prevention precautions, offered sage advice to young people who wants to become fire-fighters.

“To our youth who have interest in joining the JFB, I can assure you that the entity is a meaningful organisation that can help to mould you into a worthwhile citizen. The JFB does not discriminate; we respond to any emergency anywhere,” she added.

Grant, who is now looking to pursue a PhD in Organisational Leadership and Behaviour, successfully completed her Commonwealth Executive Master in Public Administration at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean in 2018.

She is a former Rusea’s High School student.

Editorial Note: The information used to produce this story was obtained from the state-owned Jamaica Information Service.

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