FORTY-ONE firefighters in the Suva area were part of a one-day training to upgrade their skills on responding to hazardous material.
National Fire Authority CEO John O'Connor said the course was aimed at improving their skills and further boost their capabilities when dealing with hazardous materials.
The training was a joint initiative by the NFA and ORICA Fiji Limited, which sells chemicals and related products.
"The training was to prepare NFA, the firefighters, and also to improve our working relationship should there be a chemical spill in any industry or on the road or in trucks," Mr O'Connor said.
"That is the main purpose of the training. Our extended role now is to respond to chemical leakage or spills."
Mr O'Connor said with the changing conditions of the road, firefighters would have to be prepared for such incidents.
"Before, that was not in our jurisdiction but now once the roads are starting to change, we have to be proactive about such things," he said.
"For us to be able to respond effectively to chemical spills, we have to understand the equipment needed to be used, and how flammable it is.
"We had organised a meeting with ORICA and after the meeting we discussed that we needed to upskill the firemen with such things."
Last Thursday, the NFA set up a hands-on training at ORICA Fiji Limited's office space in Wailada where the selected fire fighters were educated on the different chemicals.
"Such training is also important as it identified the types of personal protective equipment needed for special types of chemicals.
"The training was focused on two main chemicals namely ammonium and chlorine."