Fijians qualify as firefighters

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Some of the Fijians employed in New Zealand’s thriving silver-culture industry under Mahi Rākau Forest Management during their training to acquire basic firefighting skills in Rotorua, New Zealand. Picture: SUPPLIED

In a remarkable display of community integration and cooperation, a group of Fijian men, predominantly employed in New Zealand’s thriving silver-culture industry under the Mahi Rakau Forest Management in Rotorua, are now stepping up to assist in firefighting efforts.

This newfound role comes after weeks of training to acquire basic firefighting skills, enabling them to contribute significantly during emergencies.

Originally arriving in New Zealand to work in the silver-culture sector, the men have swiftly adapted to their new environment and have now expanded their skill set beyond their primary occupation.

With wildfires becoming increasingly prevalent in certain regions, their involvement marks a crucial addition to the firefighting force.

Samuela Tudravu, who hails from Saqani in Vanua Levu, was thankful for the opportunity given to them. He said it could boost their career in other fields of work in New Zealand.

While speaking to this newspaper, he said the firefighting certificates they received after completing the training was internationally recognised.

“This certificate is recognised worldwide in firefighting, so it’s a good exposure for us, and it will also make things easier for us if there happens to be a forest fire while we are at the job site, then we can step in instead of waiting for the relevant authority,” he said.

Contractor Collin Tanatiu, who is in charge of the group under the Mahi Rakau forest management, said they implemented the training for the workers to help them fight potential forest fires.

“The training is done, and the boys have now been on standby for two weeks because it’s summer here in New Zealand, and if there is a fire within the forestry industry, then our boys can step right in to fight the fire,” he said.

Mr Tanatiu also highlighted that the decision to train Fijian workers in firefighting techniques not only addressed the pressing need for additional manpower but also fostered a sense of inclusivity and empowerment within the community.

“As they gain proficiency in fire suppression methods, these men are positioned to play an essential role in safeguarding both forestry and lives.”

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