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Bush, Rubbish and Grass Fires a Major Concern for NFA

National Fire Authority (NFA) is raising concerns over the recent increase in the number of bush fires, grass fires, rubbish fires, and sugarcane fires.

NFA Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Puamau Sowane is sending a stern warning to the people who are carelessly lighting fires that lead to major bush, grass, or rubbish fires and pose a threat to properties.

In an incident yesterday, Labasa Fire Team managed to save a three-bedroom corrugated iron and timber house in Vunika Labasa, after an uncontrolled sugarcane fire had spread to the floor of the back of the property.

At 4.11 pm yesterday, Labasa Fire team received an emergency call to inform them of the fire incident and the fire team responded immediately. Upon arrival at the scene, the team saw a wooden house engulfed with smoke inside and around it. The firefighters quickly established one delivery of water from the fire truck and managed to extinguish the fire that had just reached the flooring of the back of the house.

Weather plays a major role in the severity of bush, grass, or sugarcane fires, and NFA is concerned taking into consideration the current dry and windy conditions in all Divisions.

NFA Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Puamau Sowane says, we are into the dry season now and with the windy condition we are experiencing, if we are not careful with these uncontrolled fires, it can easily spread and destroy properties.

We have noted firefighters in the three Divisions have been attending to many bush, grass, sugarcane, and rubbish fire calls daily,” he said.

 “Majority of these fires have been a result of careless burning despite many reminders from the National Fire Authority.”

“NFA has reminded the general public of the dangers of bush fires, especially during the dry season, but people have failed to adhere to these warnings,” he said

 Mr. Sowane wants to remind the general public that according to Regulation 21(2) of The Environment Management (Waste Disposal and Recycling) Regulations 2007, states that a person who intentionally burns household garbage in a municipality area (a town or district constituted under the Local Government Act 1972) commits and offense unless the local authority has a permit that covers the resulting emission. The penalty for anyone who fails to adhere to this law could be up to $10,000.

He also emphasized that under section 23 of the Forest Act, it is prohibited to light or cause to be lit a fire in any (i) forest reserve, (ii) Nature reserve, and (iii) any other areas that have been declared a fire hazard area except in a place established for the purpose of lighting fires.

While these bushfires pose threat to properties and lives, they also impose considerable pressure on the resources of the fire authority. Firefighters could be out battling a bushfire and unable to respond quickly to a residential or commercial fire,” he added.

Bush fires not only pose threat to farms, properties, and lives, but it poses a threat to motorists, people with health issues, and animals.

According to statistics recorded by NFA, the month of August has seen a major spike in the number of bush fires, grass fires, and cane fires as we approach dryer and windy weather conditions.

Since 1st August 2021 to date, a span of over 27 days, a total of 243 incidents of bush, grass, sugarcane, and rubbish fires have been recorded of which 179 were recorded in the Western Division, 44 in the Northern Division, and 20 incidents in the Central and Eastern Division.

 The total cost of attending to these fire incidents has incurred a cost of over $95,000 to NFA just in a month.

CEO Sowane reminds the general public that fire safety is crucial for everyone and it is every individual’s responsibility to ensure that they adhere to fire safety precautions to avoid such incidents.

“We do not want to see people lose their properties, farms, and livestock especially during this difficult time currently faced by Fijians due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NFA urges the public to call on the toll-free fire emergency number 910 if they see any fire so that the firefighters can respond in the quickest time.

 

End-

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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