The Honourable Minister for Local Government, Housing, Environment, Infrastructure and Transport, Parveen Bala
Management and Staff of the National Fire Authority;
My Fellow Fijians;
Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.
I’m delighted to be here with all of you today to officially commission this new Korovou Fire Station.
Just two days ago, I was in Korolevu opening another fire station to service the people of the Coral Coast, and I’m very proud to be here today to do the same for the people of Korovou.
Just like Korolevu, your community now has dramatically improved access to the life-saving services of the National Fire Authority. Emergency response teams will now stand at the ready to protect your lives, your homes, your property and your livelihoods from the massive damage that fires can cause to your communities.
My Government takes the threat that fires pose to families and businesses throughout our country very seriously. Far too often, do we read stories about families who have been left destitute after their homes have been destroyed, or businesses – which may have been built over decades –reduced to rubble in an instant.
We all know that those tragedies do not take place only in urban areas, but that they can strike anywhere at any time. That is why it is vital we make the services of the NFA as widely accessible as they can be — in rural and urban areas alike — and that is why this new fire station is so important.
Every minute that emergency services are delayed in responding to a crisis can cost lives. For too long, many of our villages, towns and settlements have faced that reality. It is in the immediate aftermath of an incident that response services can do the greatest good, and in many cases, emergency services have been too far away to respond effectively. The communities near Korovou, for example, were reliant on the Nausori Fire Station — nearly 30 kilometres away.
With the establishment of this new fire station, those days are over. And my Government will continue working overtime to extend the services of the NFA as widely as possible throughout our islands.
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.
Not so long ago, in March of this year, we all remember the incident in Wailotua in Tailveu, when a privately owned truck carting a 20-foot container of Sodium Cyanide – a dangerous chemical – veered off the road into a waterway.
It was the NFA that stepped up got that situation quickly under control. Our firefighters safely removed the harmful materials, contained the spillage and stopped the harm from spreading to nearby communities. You now have that same level of professional, capable emergency response services right at your doorstep. And while I hope that our firefighters won’t have to save any of you from disasters down the road, if need-be — rest assured — they will be there.
The NFA’s presence here will bring your community a newfound peace of mind, but we cannot forget that it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to keep our people and communities safe from harm.
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,
This fire station is an investment that my Government is happy to make, because it will bring your communities a peace of mind that no one can put a price on. Our people’s safety is our ultimate goal, and this station will provide a level of comfort and security never before experienced in Korovou.
My Government is a caring Government. Our priority is people. And this new station will protect the people of Korovou – their investments, their homes, their properties and their businesses. Now you can continue to advance your local economy with the knowledge that your progress is protected by the NFA – our firefighters will be there should you need them.
To our firefighters 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.