Island News

Volunteering to save property and lives

Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Tevita Seru stands out in the group photo. He also stands out in the drills. He has a loud voice and makes everyone laugh. It
06 Jun 2009 12:00

image Written By : VASITI RITOVA. Tevita Seru stands out in the group photo. He also stands out in the drills. He has a loud voice and makes everyone laugh.
It is his nature and it stood out that day.
The 27-year-old is a volunteer fire fighter at the Pacific Harbour Fire Station, located just beside what used to be a junkyard for remains of what they used at the filming of the sequel Anaconda.
He joined last year when there was news that the National Fire Authority wanted to establish a fully-fledged fire station in the district because of its importance to the place’s economic situation.
Pacific Harbour is home to a melting pot of expatriates and locals, businessmen and villages, tourist attractions and just your simple and laid-back rural entities.
Seru and his family – his parents and three sisters – live in a villa belonging to a local businessman and they work around the area.
Fire fighting has become a matter of life and death for him. It has taught him a lot of life skills and Seru aims to become a fulltime fireman when his days of volunteering are over.
He joined the group of volunteers last year when a recruit to get young men and women into the NFA’s Pacific Harbour plan.
“I also learned of the recruitment through a radio programme,” he said. “I had been lolling around in Delainavesi, and straight away came to Pacific Harbour.
To date, Seru has helped Sub Officer Iowane Maivusa and colleagues put out some of Fiji’s biggest fires.
“I was among the group that went to Naitonitoni in Navua last year, where a disabled old man was killed while he lay sleeping in his house,” he said.
“I also went with the group to Nausori, to try and douse the big industrial fire at Manoca,” he added. “That was my biggest assignment because I heard the estimated damage went right up to over a million dollars.”
Seru is a fulltime employer at Asia/Pacific Textiles in Pacific Harbour, a thriving business that takes in a good part of the community residents for work.
He said company bosses were among those who asked for the establishment of the Pacific Harbour Fire Station because it was right in the middle of everything.
“We have an agreement because he knows I volunteer my time at the fire station’ he said. “The agreement states that I would join the fire fighters if there is a fire during my official work hours.”
“The support of the community is great and there is great bonding between us and them,” he said. “To me, that would be one of the best things that have come out of all these.”
Seru is from Vunisei, Naceva, Kadavu but now earns a living in Pacific Harbour.
“I quite like the spirit of sharing in this area,” he said. “Everyone becomes close and the firemen recruitment drive became a friendship thing for most of our families.”
His supervisors have taught him some of the best things in life, he said.
“I get recognised on the streets and on the road these days, because we are here to save lives and property and that is very important.
“A fireman’s life is responsible and controlled and that, I have learned with a lot of patience,” he added.
Seru has also learned about public speaking skills, something he strongly recommended for young men and women who want to join fire fighting.
“We have to run, shout, give directions and create openings,” he said. “That is life in fire fighting – you get up and go and if you are one little shy Fijian guy, this job is not your type.”
Seru speaks at many village, district and council meetings, explaining about the kind of work he does and what it takes to be a fireman.
“I am delighted with the relationship because we are now working closely in protecting our community from fires and other critical matters,” he said. “Sometimes we even team up with the local police in fighting against crime and Pacific Harbour has a community of good people.”
Seru hopes to become a fulltime fireman one day and with this kind of attitude, he will surely get there.

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