PM. HON VOREQE BAINIMARAMA’S SPEECH AT THE COMMISSIONING OF THE NEW KOROLEVU FIRE STATION

The Honourable Minister for Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Parveen Bala
Cabinet Ministers;
Management and Staff of the National Fire Authority;
Distinguished Guests;
My Fellow Fijians.

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you all today to officially commission this new Korolevu Fire Station.

This project has extended the reach of the National Fire Authority to the people of Korolevu and the Coral Coast, giving these communities access to emergency response services that can save lives, property and livelihoods from the ever-present danger of fires and other emergencies.

In a moment, a fire can wipe out homes that have stood for generations, or enterprises that have been built and sustained by hard-working Fijians. In a moment, a fire can set families and businesses back years and leave our people destitute, homeless and with little hope for the future.

Far too often do we read such stories about families who have lost everything to house fires or Fijian businesses that fires have damaged or destroyed.

Unfortunately, some of those stories have marred Korolevu’s own recent history. We all remember the Korolevu Resort and Paradise Point Resort – both destroyed by fires – which were located just opposite from this new fire station. Crises that both could have been avoided if NFA services had been more readily available.

As recently as 2012, the Warwick Fiji Resort and the Naviti Resort also both suffered fires, again showing us that the risks posed to the homes and businesses in Korolevu was unacceptably high. It was due to these repeated incidents that my Government sought to establish this new station and bring the fast-acting emergency response services of the NFA to the doorsteps of the families and businesses here in Korolevu and up and down the Coral Coast. And while, hopefully, the vast majority of you won’t need our fire fighters coming to your rescue, the NFA’s presence here will give you the knowledge that help will be on the way – should you ever require it.

Fires can strike anytime and anywhere – not only in our cities, but in villages, towns and settlements as well. So it is vital that we make the response services provided by the NFA available as widely as possible throughout the country. For too long, these services have been restricted to our urban centres, leaving our rural communities vulnerable – but that was not a reality that my Government was prepared to accept.

Today we are opening this new station in Korolevu, Nadroga and on Friday I will also open a new station in Korovou, Tailevu. So progress is being made – but there is still work to be done. My Government will remain committed to spreading these services throughout our islands to expand the NFA’s shield of protection to cover as many of our people as possible.

Those services aren’t only limited to fire emergency response, the NFA responds to a wide-range of emergencies, including road accidents, hazardous material exposure and flooding, and also sends emergency ambulance responses. It doesn’t matter where we call home in Fiji, these services can go a long way in keeping all of us safer and more secure. That is why I am committed to making NFA services as accessible as possible for our people.

And while the NFA’s presence here will bring a new level of security and protection to your community, that does not mean we can become complacent. We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of fires and other crises that endanger our people. We all need to shoulder the responsibility of making our communities safer.

We need to take extreme caution in maintaining the electrical wiring in our homes. We need to make sure our appliances are turned off and are unplugged when not in use. We need to keep flammable materials out of the house and keep our gas containers away from heat sources. We need to keep hazardous materials away from children and teach them the dangers of playing with fire.

We have to be careful when smoking in our homes, when lighting our candles and our mosquito coils and even when cooking in the kitchen. Any of these activities have the potential to causes fires that can cause widespread damage and end lives. So please be vigilant. Please take these risks seriously. Please help us all keep our communities safe from harm.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The peace of mind that this new fire station will bring to Korolevu and the Coral Coast community is truly priceless. Not only are you all safer, but this new station provides a measure of protection that will catalyse future growth and development in your region. This is already one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country, but this new station now sends a clear message to investors and entrepreneurs – in Fiji and abroad –that your investments, your properties and your businesses will be protected. And it sends a strong message to the Fijian people that your homes will be protected.

To our fire fighters who will be working in this new station, I ask that you serve these deserving communities to the best of your ability. You will be relied upon to provide life-saving services, and that is a responsibility that should be respected at all times.

With that, it is my sincere pleasure to declare this new fire station officially opened.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you.