Thursday, July 1, 2010

Firefighters lack proper resources

Source: ROSALYN EVARA, Post Courier
A vital service in PNG is being neglected in light of other development projects . . .
SO MUCH attention is being given to getting projects and other developments off the ground but so little to the agency which will be cleaning up should anything go wrong.
This was one of the stark observations made by PNG fire chief Isaac Silas while in Madang last week for the Pacific Islands Fire Service Association’s Fire and Emergency Services executive forum.
Mr Silas said with so many developments taking place not only in the country’s mining and petroleum sectors but also in the other economic sectors, an increase could also be expected with the associated hazards.
He said the Fire Service was there to help mitigate losses but that as it was officers throughout the country would not be able to respond adequately as they lacked specialist training and resources for today’s challenges.
“In the case of Port Moresby and some of the country’s major centres we have a lot of high rise buildings that are now towering in the skies. This will require specialist training and equipment.
“In recent years the role of the Fire Service not only in PNG but globally has expanded to include emergency services.
“A recent incident in Goroka where fire officers were also called in to assist in an emergency operation there should serve as a wake-up call of how much we are lacking,” he said.
Mr Silas said while the PNG Fire Service did receive budgetary and added support from the Government this was still not enough.
However he added that maybe the PNG Fire service would have to take it on itself to try to rally more support from the stakeholders.
“In saying this I would also like to urge provincial governments and even local business houses to look at assisting the local fire stations in their communities.
“The Manus Provincial Government has realised the importance of this agency and recently made it its business to provide funding support and maybe this is something other provinces could duplicate,” he said.
These sentiments were backed by Mr Silas’ South Australian metropolitan colleague Grant Lupton. Mr Lupton said unlike the developments in the past, those of today encompassed new technology, materials and even chemicals.
He said all of these would require specialist training and resources on the part of the fire officers to be able to respond should anything go wrong.
Meanwhile, the meeting in Madang last week saw a total of nine Pacific nations being represented at the Pacific Islands Fire Service Association meeting.
Hosted by the PNG Government through the PNG fire and Emergency Services it was sponsored by the Australiasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) and AusAID.
The week-long meeting was held with the aim of making the member countries safer and resilient to fire and other emergencies.

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