Island News

Dobui climbs from strength to strength

Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. His job is one of the toughest jobs as it requires a lot of sacrifice, courage, self-confidence and strength. For Iferemi Dobui, 36, becoming a
09 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : Mela Tuilevuka.
His job is one of the toughest jobs as it requires a lot of sacrifice, courage, self-confidence and strength.
For Iferemi Dobui, 36, becoming a firefighter was something he always dreamt about when he was young.
Today, with almost 13 years of firefighting experience to his name the Kabara villager from Lau realizes the career he choose to be in, is not as easy as it seemed when he was a young boy.
Dobui as he is commonly known in his station at Argo Street in Walu Bay joined the National Fire Authority (NFA) as a recruit in 1995.
“When I first joined I was posted around the country every six months,” he said.
“I was in Nausori for the first six months and then back here to Suva for the next six months.”
Dobui added times at the NFA then were hard but he managed to cope with all the work load as he liked being transferred around to different places because he was still single and free.
“I did not mind moving around at the time because I was not married yet and I gained a lot of experience as I worked at different stations,” he said.
Now married with two daughters and a son, Dobui said his job is still demanding as ever but tries to spend as much with his family as possible.
“I live at home with my parents and my family and they always see me come and go,” he said.
“We work 24-hour shifts at the station and at times if we are a man down I volunteer to pull through the shift and do 48-hours straight.”
“Sometimes my parents ask me if I am studying for some course at the Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT) or the University of the South Pacific (USP) apart from my work because I am always away from home,” he said.
“Little do they know that I am always pulling shifts back at the station.”
Dobui said that back at their station when the next crew that comes on duty are short of man power, they all pitch in and volunteer to pull shifts.
“I always admire the sense of unity and comradeship in our station during these times when we have to volunteer to pull shifts,” he said.
“Sometimes we always end up arguing of who is going to pull the shift but if anyone has a commitment at home, the team at the station are always ready to cover for each other and we are always there for each other.”
Dobui said that most times they prefer to hang around the station because of the close bond and unity amongst the men.
“Most of us consider this to be our home because we spend most of our time here and the best part of it is that we have fun as my mates often crack up jokes as we go about doing our work,” he said.
During his 13-year experience in the NFA, Dobui said his worst experience ever was during a fire at Stewart Street in Suva a few years ago.
“We came to put out the fire but there was no fire hydrant nearby,” he said.
“Trying to put the fire out with no water and working with minimum equipment is one of the worst experience I have across in my career.”
Dobui added that it hurts them when they are not able to save a life or a property because of the lack of facilities provided to them.
“What hurts us the most is when we are not able to save a life or a property, people think we have a heart of steel but no we are just normal human beings,” he said.
“We have feelings too for the families at loss because we understand that one day one of us can also face the same situation.”
Dobui said life as a firefighter is not as easy as he once thought when he was a young boy, as they have to have witness dead bodies at the scene of an accident or a fire.
“Just imagine if I had to attend to a fire or a car accident rescue call and it so happened that my daughter or son was involved,” he said.
“We always treat all calls that come to our control centre very seriously and try our very best to do all we can.”
“When attending to these calls, we have to be prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for what is ahead of us because we never know we may see another dead body.”
Dobui said in worse situations, he at times feel like breaking down to cry when he sees dead bodies but he has to hold himself together.
“We are normal human beings and we have feelings too, but for us as firefighters while we are doing our work in worst case scenarios, we have to be strong and not breakdown in front of the public,” Dobui said.
For Dobui, the best experience in his career is when customers or members of the public show appreciation and acknowledge the work they do.
“I always like the fact that most young children look up to us and admire us when we are wearing our firemen uniforms,” he said.
“And it is up to us to set our standards and live up to the expectations of the young generation so that they can fill in our shoes in the future.”

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