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Business Communities should take Fire Safety Seriously: National Fire Authority CEO

Seeing a spike in commercial fire occurrences, the NFA is urging the public and business owners to start taking fire safety seriously.
28 May 2020 10:44
Business Communities should take Fire Safety Seriously: National Fire Authority CEO

The National Fire Authority (NFA) is raising concern over the recent increase in the number of commercial fires.

Seeing a spike in commercial fire occurrences, the NFA is urging the public and business owners to start taking fire safety seriously.

After the recent major fire in Rakiraki town on Monday, 25th May 2020 that destroyed two large buildings which housed the businesses of A. Gafoor & Sons Shop No.1 and Shop No. 2, Ba Motor Parts, Raj Associates, Raj Wine & Dine, a Computer shop, a Barbershop, a Tailoring shop, a Phone shop and partially damaged 6 residential flats, the NFA is sending a strong message to all business communities to work with NFA to ensure their buildings and businesses are fire compliant.

Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Puamau Sowane, said that the fire in Rakiraki is the second major commercial fire within a span of only 5 days following last week Friday’s fire incident at the Suva Flea market and these incidents raise a lot of serious concerns.

Mr. Sowane confirms that both fire incidents started from kitchen areas which, unfortunately, escalated and spread to other adjacent or adjoining businesses in that area, causing serious damages and economic losses.

For the incident in Rakiraki Town, the fire crew fought very hard against heavy smoke caused by highly flammable material in that area coupled with windy conditions that hampered their efforts to stop the fire from spreading.  The thick smoke forced the fire crew to relocate their efforts to the back of the building to enable them quicker access to the area of origin of the fire.  The high content of flammable materials contributed to the quick spread upwards of the fire which resulted in extensive fire damage to the adjoining businesses and buildings.
CEO Sowane explained that the Rakiraki fire team did their level best to contain the fire with support from Tavua and Ba Fire Stations and assistance from nearby stakeholders who had water tank capabilities.

CEO Sowane further explained that amidst speculation that the Rakiraki Fire Truck arrived with no water in the tank, it is important to understand that the Fire Truck holds a tank capacity of 2,000 litres and with the output rate of 125 litres per minute at 700kpa, the total tank capacity is discharged within 16 minutes.  Whilst there was connectivity to the hydrant supply, it was very unfortunate that the water supply pressure at that crucial moment was too low and inadequate to support the fire crew’s effort to extinguish the fire.  NFA acknowledges with much gratitude the support of the stakeholders in Rakiraki during the incident.

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NFA CEO said that he has also received reports of alleged misconduct levelled at our fire officers during the course of the incident and he confirms that internal investigations are being conducted to verify these allegations and any confirmation of misconduct will result in serious disciplinary action.

NFA CEO says that we have our policies and procedures and officers who are confirmed to have behaved unprofessionally during the course of our duty will face serious consequences in accordance with our Policies and Procedures.

CEO Sowane emphasized that fire safety is crucial for all businesses and property owners and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that their properties are fire compliant.  Business owners should take stock of their fire safety capability and take advantage of fire safety awareness programs that NFA can offer to either eliminate or enable the early mitigation of fire damage to their property.

Business owners are encouraged to engage their staff in firefighting practices and ensure that their staff know what to do in the event of a fire emergency.  This will go a long way in preventing the unnecessary occurrence of fires damaging properties.

NFA CEO also emphasizes to building owners and business operators to ensure full compliance to the fire safety aspects outlined in the Fiji Building Code, as well as take heed of the fire safety precautions and messages by the National Fire Authority which will assist greatly in early fire mitigation or prevention of unnecessary damages due to fire.  Building and Business owners are requested to ensure that the materials or contents used in their buildings or businesses are fire compliant and that fire prevention or mitigation strategies are in place to prevent such unnecessary losses.

NFA provides fire training in a number of areas for businesses and private industries. There are a range of fire safety skills that can be gained through this formal training including emergency warden training and the proper and effective use of fire equipment.

Mr. Sowane urges the public and business communities to start reviewing their fire safety strategies to prevent the unnecessary occurrence of fires in their property and to work with NFA to take advantage of the fire safety and fire prevention services offered.

The situation involving coronavirus (COVID-19) is unprecedented and many businesses will be making decisions that they have not faced before. Many businesses are already laying-off their workers and under the current trying times CEO Sowane encourages every member of the Fiji community to help prevent any fire incident as it adds to greater economic losses.

CEO Mr. Sowane re-iterates that fire safety is everyone’s responsibility and that simple fire safety precautions should be strictly adhered to at all times to avoid unnecessary fire-related damages to properties.

He also advises the public to call 910 as soon as they see smoke or fire in order to give NFA and its Firefighters the best and quickest opportunity to respond to the fire incident.

Every life and property matters and everyone has a role to play to ensure that our properties, businesses, homes are fire safe.

Feedback: rosi.doviveata@fijisun.com.fj

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