GraceKennedy fetes hero firefighters

The firefighters who rescued 66-year-old George Smart after he was dumped into a 55-foot pit by gunmen in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in May were yesterday hailed as heroes during an appreciation lunch hosted by GraceKennedy.

Grace Kitchens Executive Chef Shea Stewart employed his culinary skills to ensure the firefighters were treated to a hearty meal, made from Grace food products, at the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Spanish Town station, where the six firefighters are assigned.

“We were notified by the Fire Brigade here in Spanish Town that they wanted to honour the team of six members. It was a great opportunity for GraceKennedy, being a Jamaican company, to award our local heroes. We have been in a pandemic where we’ve had so many heroes who stand out [and] GraceKennedy has been very keen on showing its appreciation to fellow Jamaicans,” Stewart said.

Dennis Lyons, who was acting as divisional commander for St Catherine at the time of the rescue, said yesterday’s collaboration with GraceKennedy could be the start of a flourishing partnership, as the Jamaica Fire Brigade has swift water rescue and other crucial courses to conduct, which require funding and support.

“I really thank the GraceKennedy team. I hope this is a starting point, not only for when we carry out daring rescues but when we need some assistance,” Lyons said.

“We have a lot of training programmes coming up, like swift water training, and we are going to need them on board.

“To see all that is happening here today, I am happy. It has never happened before, especially to the St Catherine division. The Kingston division is always in the spotlight, but for St Catherine, this is a first,” added Lyons, who could not help but recall some of the details leading up to the rescue.

“The call came in, like at 7:14 am. I was at home and they called me and I rushed to the scene. When I reached the scene and took a peep into the hole, you couldn’t see anything down there because it was dark. They advised me that firefighter Dennis Taylor would be deployed in the pit. Firefighter Taylor was involved in some swift water rescue operation and other training. Because of the size of the hole, his body was just ideal to go down in that pit. He is a very brave young man,” Lyons said.

“It was a delicate operation because the hole was narrow and again we did not know what was down there. We were probably there for more than an hour and we had to improvise with the ladder and all of that,” Lyons added.

Taylor attributed the success of the operation to his superior training. He was particularly intrigued that a month later the firefighters were still being celebrated.

“I am extremely surprised about the reaction that we actually got from that mission and we are still here celebrating today, one month after the act,” he said.

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