Weekender

Firefighters needed to improve manpower

Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. The National Fire Authority (NFA) has received a lot of criticism for recent fires around the country. But Chief Fire Officer Mark Reid is standing
08 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : MELA TUILEVUKA. The National Fire Authority (NFA) has received a lot of criticism for recent fires around the country.
But Chief Fire Officer Mark Reid is standing by his men and the hard work that they do everyday.
Mr Reid who was closely watching hopeful firemen during the recruiting process at the Aquatic Centre in Suva on Thursday, said NFA needs more people to be recruited on board.
At the moment, his men are currently doing 24-hour to 48-hour shifts and they cover all the services including special services.
“With these recruitments we hope to get more young people on board NFA so that those currently with us can work at minimum manning levels,” Mr Read said.
Mr Read said he understands his men are tired of the long shifts put upon them and even though he doesn’t get complaints about the long working hours, he is grateful that his men have the sense of national pride in them to be able to carry out their work as required.
The recruitment, the first one which started out in Suva on Thursday had 558 applicants out of 310 were being short listed whereby 208 applicants made their way to the Aquatic Centre for the physical test.
The physical test itself required participants to climb, run, crawl, balance, lift and swim during the different phases.
One aspect of the physical test that was just introduced this year was the swimming test.
“The reason we have introduced the swimming test is because our work requires us to also cover special services and these includes sea rescue or ship salvaging and this is where the swimming ability comes into the picture,” Mr Reid said. Mr Reid said that he hopes to separate the different services and have his men concentrate on one particular area of work rather than doing everything at once.
“At the moment my men attend to fire calls, car accident calls, sea rescue calls and pet rescue calls to name a few,” he said.
Mr Reid added he would like to see the authority have enough man power to have certain people trained to attend to these different special services that fall under the responsibility of the NFA.
“With more recruitment and more people joining the authority, we would be able to do what we plan to do and this is a huge commitment for us.”
Mr Reid was grateful to his men who sacrificed their day-off to help out in the recruiting process.
“I am very grateful to my men and also those who are on day-off from working long shifts for taking the time to come and help out in the recruitment process today,” Mr Reid said. The recruiting process goes through three stages whereby applicants are being vetted individually by a panel and then they are being given a chance to prove themselves physically and the last stage is the aptitude test at Training Productivity Authority of Fiji (TPAF).
Mr Reid said he was pleased that there were a few female participants as there is no age, height, sex, race, religion or marital status restriction to the recruiting process.
“We have had criticisms in the past about our selection but I don’t see anything wrong with that,” Mr Reid said.
“Luckily for us this year, we are trying to do our best to bring our recruiting process in line with the international standards and we have started it right here with the introduction of the swimming test during recruitment.”
Mr Reid said he is grateful to the government of the day for the support it has been giving to the authority.
“I believe the working conditions and problems encountered by my men will improve and in fact it is improving,” Mr Reid said.
“For the past 18 months I have been here, I have seen significant change in the way we carry out our duties.”


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