Navutulevu Village in Serua Province, almost 42 kilometres east of Sigatoka, has been declared a fire-safe community.

This is after the completion of one-week training for 25 villagers as Community Fire Wardens (CFW) under a programme drawn up and implemented by the National Fire Authority (NFA) for rural and remote communities which fall outside its fire boundaries.

Provincial Administrator Nadroga Navosa Vatia Vasuca officiated at the graduation ceremony last Friday (September 29, 2023) at the village and handed out certificates to the graduates.

“I thank the NFA for this programme because it is very timely, given the recent spate of fires around the country,” he said.

“I want to thank the officers and firefighters who imparted their skills and knowledge and I want to thank the villagers, especially the youth, who took part enthusiastically and took the lessons from this programme really well as we witnessed during the drills this morning.

“I thank you, the youth, who took part in this programme because we can see that information you received to improve your livelihood is filtering down to the grassroots.

“There are a few things I wish to share with you. These are particularly linked to fires within our villages. They include unattended cooking, people cooking on open fires or in kitchens within their homes. While they are cooking, they are on their mobile phones as well and, often, fires occur because people are not paying attention while they are cooking.

“A few reminders I wish to leave with you are the need to be careful where and how mosquito coils are placed in homes and the need to ensure that those who use gas for cooking close their cylinders after cooking. These are very basic things, but they could minimise the occurrence of fires.

“The other issue for discussion at village and tikina (district) level is the way houses are built in our villages. Houses need to be spaced out at a certain distance to ensure that fires don’t spread to neighbouring houses because they are built so close together.

“This is important because people’s lives have value. The challenge here is how you react to disasters and place value on the lives of those who you are entrusted to keep safe in the village.

“Don’t file the things you’ve learned during this one-week training. Share what you’ve learned and use it to improve the lives of villagers.”   

The community fire wardens took part in a natural disaster evacuation exercise by dividing the village into zones and then mapping out an evacuation assembly site, where wardens then reported to a site controller on the number of villagers evacuated, the elderly and infirm as well as children.

They also took part in a first aid drill and a parade, which was reviewed by Mr Vasuca.


Under the CFW programme, the village wardens are divided into zones for which they are responsible.

The zones are mapped and the information is also shared with the Korolevu Fire Station, from which officers and firefighters were deployed to the village to conduct the training.

Under the Navutulevu CFW programme, officers and firefighters from the Korolevu Fire Station will visit monthly to check with the village wardens and share information and updates on the village fire safety awareness.


NFA Chief Executive Officer Puamau Sowane said the CFW programme was tailored specifically for rural and remote areas and these communities needed to take ownership of the programme and support their fire wardens.

“These are communities which fall outside the NFA’s fire boundaries (15 to 20 minutes response time). This programme empowers villagers to be responsible for fire safety within their villages and settlements. We provide the skills and training to enable them to do this,” he said.

“This is another way which we can reach out and spread the fire safety message. That is by teaching people in villages and settlements to be responsible for fire safety, identify potential fire hazards and minimise or stop the occurrence of fires.

“We have a number of village and settlements which are already undertaking the programme and we have seen how well it works.

“Part of the NFA’s strategic plan involves taking this Community Fire Wardens programme to other communities. We have a yearly target to meet in terms of the number of communities which undertake the CFW programme.

“This integrated community approach will enable the NFA to work closely with communities and teach them to become first responders in the event of an emergency.

“We encourage communities to contact us to assist them in setting up their CFW programme.”

The integrated community fire warden and emergency response framework involves the certification of community fire wardens and a fire safe community.

Friday’s graduation was also attended by the NFA’s Divisional Fire Officer (DFO) West Roveen Kumar and Station Officer (STO) Korolevu Ledua Vosa.


Established by virtue of the National Fire Service Act, 1994 the National Fire Authority assumed responsibilities to provide fire services for the entire nation of Fiji in February 1995.


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