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Training in the tropics
On 16 May, District Mechanical Officer Glenn Mumford and Scoresby brigade member Jim Read arrived at the South Pacific country of Tuvalu for a 10-day deployment to educate the police department, fire service and local volunteers about fire safety and equipment maintenance.
By Sally Bond
At just 26 square kilometres of land, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world. Situated halfway between Australia and Hawaii, Tuvalu is made up of nine tiny islands, the main being the capital city, Funafuti.
CFA has had a partnership with the National Fire Authority (NFA) in Fiji since 1991, a relationship which has provided many opportunities for both organisations. Over many years CFA has provided second-hand fire trucks, equipment, fire investigation training support and basic firefighting skills to the people of Fiji. We are now forming a similar relationship with Tuvalu.
Glenn and Jim first arrived in Fiji where they visited the NFA to meet with Chief Officer Quinilau Moceitai at Suva Fire Station. During this meeting they identified several problems with their aerial firefighting trucks and discussed the possibility of buying more retired CFA trucks.
After arriving in Funafuti, they were put straight to work providing practical firefighting skills development and mechanical training. Glenn’s first challenge was to repair a tanker that had spent eight months living on the beach.
“When we first set eyes on the beached tanker there were visible signs of wear and tear,” said Glenn.
“It took some exploring and even a walk around the local tip to source the parts I needed to repair the vehicle.”
“Most mornings would be spent inside with nine police officers and three volunteers teaching and revising skills, then in the afternoon we’d head outside and put their skills to the test,” Jim said.
“The training was 25 per cent indoors and 75 per cent outside practising the theory hands on.”
On the last day of the trip, the freshly-trained fireys had the chance to test the lessons they’d learned with a real house fire on the island.
“It was the first time they’ve ever saved a house, so it was great they were able to put their skills to work,” Glenn said.
Glenn and Jim were sad to leave after the 10 days. They built strong relationships with locals and are hoping to return.
“It was great fun. Such a lovely place and lovely people,” Glenn said.
“Great hospitality! On the last day we even had a meat pie for lunch,” Jim said. “It was one of the most rewarding trips I’ve ever done.”
The deployment was coordinated by Urban team members Acting Deputy Chief Officer Tony O’Day and Project Coordinator Sally Bond and funded through the Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) project.