Tuipoloa looks back on 32-years of life as a firefighter

Thirty-two years ago Tuipoloa Ma’alaima Taua made a decision to become a firefighter and he has not looked back as he took on the challenge to save lives and property and to serve the nation.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer at the Multipurpose Gym Tuanaimato on Tuesday, when the media was invited to witness the celebration of the International FireFighters Day, Tuipoloa said he was only 22 years of age when he was sent out on his first mission to put out a bushfire near Vaitele.

“It all started when I was just a young man, I’d have had a few occupations beforehand but this was calling for me to serve and learn to be a firefighter,” he said in an interview.

“I was only 22 when I was sent out on my first mission as a firefighter and it wasn’t your regular building fires or factory fires, it was a bush fire near Vaitele.”

The 55-year-old said it was from that day sometime in March 1989 when he made it his life’s duty to protect and to defend the public as an employee of Samoa’s Fire and Emergency Services Authority.

“I do not regret any of my experiences but I thank God every day for the gift of life, I give thanks for his protection, love and light,” added Tuipoloa. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to make it this far, although many have lost their lives on the job or while doing the job, I was and am fortunate to be here still.”

And while he acknowledges the dangers that come with his line of work, he notes that firefighting is not for the faint hearted, and it is what he loves doing.

“When I first started my job, we didn’t have international training and we weren’t fully equipped but we were always ready to serve our country. 

“Firefighting is no regular job, it is a life and death experience but that was what I loved and put my sweat, hard work and tears into.”

Having spent 32 years with the FESA has enabled Tuipoloa to witness the changes that the organisation has undergone over the years, and he recalls vividly how things have changed over time.

“I admit things were slow at first, we didn’t quite have that much equipment and Samoa was still at its young stage of development,” he said. 

“There weren’t many buildings and things were not really modernised. 

“It is now expected that we firefighters must be fully equipped and trained when serving the job, especially since there is new development and new buildings in the country.”

And he has seen his colleagues travel abroad to further upskill themselves in recent years, and it continues to dawn on him how lucky he is to still be working unlike others. 

“Many of my colleagues weren’t as fortunate to make it this far, some have left or have lost their lives yet I thank god every day for his guidance. 

“Firefighting has not been just my job; it has been a dream to provide such a service to my people and my country; I could not ask for anything more than what I have already accomplished and participated in.

“I carry on in honor of my colleagues lost lives and with honor of my country besides firefighting has not just been a job that I accepted, it is now who I am and who I will always be with and without the uniform.

“I am proud to have served my fellow country men and women for their hard work in determination, keeping in mind whether they would come home or not.”

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