NFA raises alarm over surge in fires across the country

December 16, 2023 7:37 am

[File Photo]

National Fire Authority Chief Executive Puamau Sowane has raised concerns about a significant surge in bush fires, grass fires, and cane fires, as highlighted by recent statistics.

In the three-month period from August to October, a total of 707 fire incidents in various forms, including bush, grass, sugarcane, and rubbish fires, were recorded across the country, marking a cause for alarm.

Sowane disclosed that out of the 707 reported fires, 417 occurred in the Western Division, 196 in the Northern Division, and 94 in the Central and Eastern Division.

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Sowane highlighted this concern in light of a grass fire at Sanasana, Naisoso Road, Nadi, on Thursday.

When the firefighters reached the scene, they noticed a vast area of vacant grassland on fire, with thick smoke blowing towards the Nadi International Airport runway.

The crews managed to save four houses and the Grace Road Supermarket with the support of their appliance tank supply.

While the crews were still at the scene of the grass fire, they received a call from Nadi Fire Station about an EFL pine post on fire at the same location.

Firefighters promptly responded to the second incident.

Sowane expressed concerns about the rising incidents of grass, rubbish, and bush fires, citing the Naisoso incident as an illustration of the danger and risks posed by such fires to extensive properties in the Naisoso and Nadi Airport areas.

He added that their firefighters in the three Divisions have been attending to several bush, grass, sugarcane, and rubbish fire calls on a daily basis.

The majority of these fires have been a result of careless burning, despite many reminders from the National Fire Authority.

Sowane pointed out that according to the Environment Management (Waste Disposal and Recycling) Regulations 2007, a person commits an offence 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. Sowane reminded the general public that fire safety is crucial for everyone, and it is the responsibility of every individual to ensure they adhere to fire safety precautions to avoid such incidents.