Island News

Firefighter cheats death

Written By : Source: National Fire Authority. While everyone is fleeing the fire, these people are running towards it despite the high risk to their lives and not knowing what
25 Sep 2010 12:00

image Written By : Source: National Fire Authority. While everyone is fleeing the fire, these people are running towards it despite the high risk to their lives and not knowing what would happen to them.
“But that’s God’s call whether we survive or not as we are the last resort for the people”, says firefighter Josese Cavu.
Firefighters are the last resort and the last to leave the fire scene.
They do not leave until the fire is completely extinguished and that’s what the life of a firefighter is all about.
Cavu’s near-death experience led him to re-evaluate all facets of his life.
It’s been 27 years since firefighter Cavu saved the life of a 30-year-old woman who was trapped inside her home, which was on fire in Lautoka.
Minutes after receiving the fire emergency call, a team of fire fighters from Lautoka fire station attended the fire call and unbeknown to them there was a person trapped inside the building.
The house was burning and blinding thick smoke filled the house.
Amongst the fire crew was Josese Cavu, a probation fire fighter then, who faced a life threatening experience.
“It was then that I came face to face with the reality of the life of a fire fighter”, Cavu said.
That experience changed my whole philosophy of life.
“It was just like any other night in Lautoka in 1982 when we received a fire call.
On arriving at the scene, our sub officer dished out the attack strategy and the team quickly dispersed to their respective areas.
During the course of the operation I was told by the people at the scene that a lady was trapped inside the house.
The first thing that came to mind was to go inside the house and save her”, Cavu said.
“The house was ablaze; the front door of the house and the exit door at the back were on fire so I had to break the louvres and climb into the house to look for the woman.
The house was filled with thick smoke but my trained senses and determination spurred me on to look for the woman. I found her hiding under the bed.
I helped her to get out of the house through the same entry and managed to get out of the house unharmed.”
“That fire incident changed my philosophy about the nature of the work that firefighters do, about people, friends and relationships.
I am alive today because of the grace of God and his blessing upon firefighters.
The day we wear the fire fighter uniform we take on a responsibility and obligation to protect life and property!” Cavu said.
“I think I actually cheated death that night and I can only thank God for protecting me and for helping me save that woman – that life!
I would lay down my life again if it meant saving another.
That’s what you do when you’re a firefighter. That is what the job is about”, said Cavu.
He added: “I was just doing my job and whether it is heroism or bravery then I believe all fire fighters would be heroes and the bravest among men and I am proud to be one of them!”.
Commenting on the changes to the fire service over the last twenty-eight years, Cavu said: “The Brigade has always embraced change in many forms, though the pace of change has accelerated hugely over the last few years.
The National Fire Authority was first established on 1st February 1995 under the National Fire Service Act of 1994.
The National Fire Authority took over the fire services formerly run by the Board of Fire Commissioners of Suva, and other municipal councils in Fiji including the town councils of Sigatoka, Nadi , Lautoka , Ba, Tavua, Labasa , Savusavu and Levuka.
The Authority also took over all properties from these Town Councils and absorbed their employees who worked as firefighters in these city/town councils”.
“It is good to see NFA grow especially as we see new fire stations being built in Ba, Labasa, Sigatoka and Nadi”.
“Our equipment have improved immeasurably and the new uniforms now offer us much better protection.
We have always promoted fire prevention; however, we now work much more closely with partner agencies and the media to improve fire safety in order to prevent fires and other emergencies from occurring.
We now have equipment such as “jaws of life”, bolt cutters which enable firefighters to carry out their work in their Road Accident Rescue operation.”
This hard work is showing great results across the country with the reduction in fires and other incidents, something which the NFA is rightly proud of.
“When I first joined the NFA there were no women firefighters, but now we have two women firefighters on board who are stationed in Suva and Nadi fire stations.
NFA now has one of the most diversely skilled workforces in the fire and rescue service and the expanded role of a firefighter has had a very positive impact, both on the service we provide and on the internal culture of the organization.
There is absolutely no doubt that the improvements in equipment and the expanded role of the firefighters have contributed in a big way to the improved delivery of service by NFA”, Mr. Cavu said.
NFA Acting Chief Executive Officer Mr Jone Koroi said: “NFA has increased its emphasis on fire safety, especially in the home.
“You’ll need to educate yourself and other family members about fire hazards.
You’ll need to take specific steps to remove fire hazards from your home and you’ll need to plan ahead on how to react in case of a fire, so that if the worst happens, you’re prepared, and no one is injured or killed”, Mr. Koroi said.
Any fire would need Oxygen, Heat source and a Fuel source to start it up. NFA’s message on fire prevention and fire safety measures is based on the need to eliminate at least one of the elements above in order to prevent unnecessary fires from occurring.
For example, a candle is good for light and warmth; however, if this candle light is brought into contact with a nearby curtain or overhanging bed-sheet, a larger fire can occur which can spread into the rest of the room and building.
Fires can be fatal to human lives particularly.
It is damaging to the economy in terms of job losses, losses in revenue and this impact has a multiplier effect.
The multiplier effect from fires is of great concern to Government and also to the National Fire Authority.
The importance of preparedness through education and change of attitudes towards the handling of fire cannot be over emphasized.”
“NFA’s Strategic Roadmap for Fire Safety and Mitigation in Fiji recognizes the need for all stakeholders to work in partnership and integrate their efforts towards fire prevention and preparedness through the raising of fire safety awareness and educating our communities on the need to prevent fires from occurring in the first place,” Mr. Koroi said.
The service that the NFA provides is essentially to fight back fires when they occur.

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