Let’s take a trip…Firefighting in Fiji

Suva Fire Station

Suva Fire Station. This station boasts 11 fire apparatus including 1 ladder truck.

Welcome Sunday readers. Today I give you a treat – a look at the Firefighters in Fiji. While this is not a weekly type of post, I do plan on giving you some insight on firefighters elsewhere when I can. If you would like me to do a “Let’s take a trip” post about your department or firefighting in your Country, State, Province, or Region let me know.

Today we are visiting Fiji. I bet when you woke up you didn’t realize you were going on a vacation…but you are. A working vacation to the Republic of the Fiji Islands. Fiji is an archipelago of 322 islands (106 permanently inhabited). The National Fire Authority (NFA) is in charge of firefighting in Fiji. They started a blog here, but unfortunately it has not been updated since 2008. You can check out press releases on the Republic of Fiji’s government website. You can visit the NFA online here.

The NFA is made up of Career and Volunteer Firefighters.

You can view photos of the stations and apparatus here. Be sure to scroll through the various regions on the left menu bar!

Below is a video of a Fiji National Fire Authority (NFA) fire engine responding. The video was taken by a firefighter from New Zealand. Note how the firefighters are standing up on the back of the fire engine. I guess they haven’t been hit by the buckle up bug yet.

There is a video from a house fire at Damu Place, Namadi Heights in Fiji here. You can note the lack of SCBA although that might have just been exterior crews. I will give the benefit of the doubt and say that if there were interior crews in operation maybe they had on SCBA. The fire is from 2008. Forgive me, but I have scoured the Internet and not been able to find many videos of Fiji firefighters. However, this guy has a couple videos of training in Fiji.

Trainee firefighters take time out from their hectic schedule at Nadave.

Trainee firefighters take time out from their hectic schedule at Nadave.

As you can see from the video here that Fiji’s Bravest have large buildings and high-rises to contend with too. The fire in the video/story was in the Central Business District of Suva.

Back in 2007, a new fire station was opened in Sigatoka after the town was selected by the National Fire Authority (NFA) to pilot this new initiative. Story here with photos. Another photo gallery can be seen here of the event.

Fiji Times recently ran an article: “Celebrating 140 years: The great fire of Suva” which talks about “The entire block of building occupied by the leading commercial men of the town, together with their valuable stock, were a prey to the flames”

Firefighters in Fiji make $11,000 a year (not sure what that translates to in U.S.). Recruits go through a 10-12 week recruit school which from what I have read seems to be para-military. Text below and photo above right from story on FijiTimes.com

Tagilala mentioned in our conversation the huge number of applicants for firefighter recruits varied from 800 to 1000.

“Of these, only 30 firefighter recruits are chosen because this profession is very expensive in terms of training a firefighter,” Tagilala said.

“Even the venue for the training and accommodation costs about $40,000 to $60,000 and this includes the provision of training gear and equipment for the recruits.

“Usually, training was held at the NFA station in Walu Bay in Suva, but the Nadave surroundings and facilities were adequate for training.

One last note…An article titled “The life of a fireman” located here reads:

“Coming into the field is not new for me. I’ve been a volunteer at the Levuka Fire Station for the past four years so I’m not new to the service.

“Some colleagues found it difficult at first but it was alright for me. I had done this work before with the PAFCO and Sinuwasa fires.

“This profession has made me confident and responsible. Some people my age look for jobs that pay well and they only go for the money.

“But I joined this profession not for the money but because I like what the job stands for.”