November 27, 2012


November 27, 2012 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom
Firefighters want in on all rescue services

The National Fire Authority (NFA) has begun a process that will eventually end with it taking over rescue services nationwide – adding to the firefighting and ambulance services roles it has at the moment.

The plan involves the NFA seeking legislative changes that will allow the organisation to evolve into a one-stop-shop type operation and the leading agency in emergency-type situations.

Chief executive officer John O’Connor said talks had been under way to review the authority’s legislation, which was part of the National Fire Service (Amendment) Decree 2009.

“It is the intention of Government to build the capacity of the NFA,” Mr O’Connor said.

“We are in the process of reviewing our legislation so that we can offer an effective response beyond the roles we have now. This is to ensure that people’s lives are protected and helped in times of need.”

Section 11 of the National Fire Authority Act says;
“(a) to establish fire districts in accordance with Section 3 and to ensure that the provision of fire services is efficient having regard to life and property which the Authority is under an obligation to protect;”
“(i) to co-ordinate, establish and to take all practical steps to provide emergency services and rescues for road and industrial accidents, hazardous material incidents, floods and natural disasters;”

Mr O’Connor said the review would start with a strategic management workshop next month to formulate ideas from stakeholders.

“Apart from basic firefighting, we want to become the leading agency in ambulance service and land, water and disaster rescue,” he said.

“We have most of the resources, knowledge and equipment. For our services to be effective and efficient, we need to review our legislation to encompass our operation.”

The NFA is likely to follow the models of operation used in Singapore.

“Australia and New Zealand have a State emergency service apart from the fire service. The Asian model is different where the fire authority is empowered to conduct all operations. It is helpful because it allow the fire authority to carry out its role well and in its totality,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said their $400,000 operational grant allocation in next year’s budget would enhance their ambulance services.

NFA is likely to add the Ba and Sigatoka areas in their ambulance services. It currently services Suva through its headquarters at Walu Bay, Nausori and Valelevu. Talks are ongoing with the Ministry of Health for the Ba and Sigatoka ambulance services.

Meanwhile, the revised legislation is expected to be in force by the middle of next year.

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