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Fiji Time: 12:50 PM on Friday 25 April

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$9m up in flames

Nasik Swami
Thursday, January 03, 2013

THE National Fire Authority yesterday revealed that it spent about $9million in operational costs which included fighting 95 structural fires in 2012.

Authority chief executive John O'Connor said they had a budget of $11million for 2012 and $1million was allocated by government for capital projects.

The NFA's major source of revenue is the fire levy on insured properties and the water levy for properties that fall within the designated fire boundaries.

Mr O'Connor said structural fires chewed almost all their budget and they would have to look at other revenue generators this year or tap donors for funding.

He said the loss to NFA was a result of fires caused by unattended fire sources as well as electrical related fires and children playing with matches.

"Out of the 95 structural fires in 2012, only 25 per cent were electrical related, unattended cooking, candles/prayer diya, mosquito coils left unattended."

Mr O'Connor said the attitude of the general public towards fire safety was causing huge losses to NFA and people urgently needed to change their mind-sets.

He said the two major structural fires last year also cost them a lot of money.

"To put out the two major fires last year at the Naviti Resort in the Coral Coast and New World Supermarket in Nakasi cost almost $13000 each."

Mr O'Connor said the fires last year could have been avoided had those responsible taken extra care.

"We should not assume that a fire will not happen to us or our families as a fire can happen to anyone at any time if we do not respect the possible causes of fires."

In addition to the monetary losses caused by fires, 12 people also lost their lives in fires this year compared to two in 2011. Out of the 12, seven were children.

Mr O'Connor said NFA would vigorously conduct awareness programs this year.

"We will visit the schools, settlements and villages with the emphasis of giving out relevant advice and information to the members of the community to make them aware of the devastating effects of fires which we hope will drive a change of attitude and mind-set."

"We are urging families, settlements, villages and community to contact their nearest fire station to arrange such awareness programs", Mr O'Connor added.