Firefighters honoured in thanksgiving ceremony
A global day to recognise the work of firefighters was celebrated with a Thanksgiving and Promotions ceremony held at Tuanaimato on Tuesday.
International Firefighters’ Day is a way to say thank you to the world’s firefighters for all they do to keep our communities safe.
Local celebrations began with a welcoming speech by the Commissioner of the Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority Tanuvasa Petone Mauga before a prayer service lead by Reverend Kirisimasi Sani of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, Ululoloa.
A moment of silence was observed in honour of fallen firefighters, lost in the line of duty.
A keynote address was delivered by caretaker Minister of Women, Community and Social Development and outgoing Member of Parliament for Aana Alofi No.1.
To mark the special day, a presentation of awards was made by the Commissioner with words of congratulations by the Chairman of the S.F.E.S.A. Board, Muaausa Joseph Walter.
“Our Lord Jesus Christ said there is no greater sacrifice than for one to lay down his life for others. And this is what firefighting is all about - serving, giving yourself up to serve others,” said Muaausa.
“Every single one in this organization is very important, regardless of what you do because we all need your contribution to make the whole engine of firefighting work.
“No firefighter can work within a vacuum; we must work as a team. It is not an easy job, many people in the past have lost their lives and losing one life is not an easy thing. The pain is there and will go on and on and never end.
“So the firefighters are responsible for the welfare of the community. They need to be congratulated, to be thanked, and appreciated for the work they have done, the work they are doing, and the work they are going to do.”
In the Promotion Ceremony, more than 60 firefighters were honoured with new positions and new ranks in the Authority. Those positions include Cadet Firefighters, Firefighter level 1, Firefighter level 2, Senior Firefighters, Qualified Firefighters, Leading Firefighters, Station Officers, Senior Station Officers and Commanders.
The Special Awards presented to Retirees /Former Commissioners and Firefighters included: Lelevaga Faafouina Mupo ( more than 20 years of service), Aumao Ioane Taulupo’o (2001-2018); firefighters who have passed away including Sogimaletavai Anitipa Lesa (2003-2019), Matamua Atonio Tamala (2006-2018), Tofilau Puni Ma’atusi and Samasoni Opeta Fogava’a.
Other Special Awards for Graduates from Overseas including Commander A’emalo Oloapu Apelu, Senior Station Officer Tiumalu James Maua’i, and Station Officer David Mose.
For the Local Courses Sponsored by PIEMA (SPC), Certificate 1: Climate Risk & Disaster Risk Management Course – (NUS) was presented to Kueni Alatimu, Petrocelli Lokeni, Sefulu Siaosi, Sola Malele, Pelasio Ualesi, Pisaina Alatise and Apelu Viki.
Certificate 1V: International Skills Training (Trainer and Assessors Courses) - TAFE Queensland presented to Tanuvasa Petone Mauga, Aufa’i Alao Petaia, Matau Esau, Kueni Alatimu, Petrocelli Lokeni.
For the National University of Samoa including Faasega Matamu; (Postgraduate Degree-Development Studies), Itafamamao Perelini ( Bachelor of Arts - Geography and Management) and Jacinta Tagaloa (Bachelor of Commerce - Management and Accounting).
For the Tesese Institute awards, they went to Reti Falaniko. Other Special Awards went to Faasega Matamu (Senior Policy and Planning officer), Ofu Aperaamo ( Senior Finance officer) and Jacinta Tagaloa (Human Resource Officer).
The Commissioner of S.F.E.S.A. said the work of a firefighter should go hand in hand with community efforts.
“There are many staff members and firefighters whose lives are affected when performing their duties and helping our people in emergencies.
“Our community needs to work together to prevent accidents that can cause harm to the lives of not only the country but our employees and firefighters.
“So we honour the services provided and we also ask everyone to be aware of our safety.
“We acknowledge the government for the opportunity to raise the importance of this special day. We also thank our working partners, sponsors, families and friends and the whole of Samoa for your prayers and tremendous support,” said Tanuvasa.
Former SFESA Commissioner, Lelevaga Sala Faafouina Mupo told this newspaper that he was thankful for dedicated firefighters who were there when the country needed them most.
“The glory goes back to God as we successfully celebrate the birthday for firefighters in Samoa. For us, we come and go, but the services provided remains and continue for our people and the community.
“So I offer a big thank you to all the servants and the firefighters who serve our country through the Authority. I also acknowledge the Commissioner and the Management for respecting us and our services provided in the past years.”
Fitimaula Donna Ioane, family member of Retiree Aumao Ioane Taulupoo and Principal of Le Amosa Preparatory School also shared her appreciation for the work of Samoa’s Firefighters.
“Aumao was one of the people involved in putting out the fire on the wharf, that huge fire that happened to the tanks on the wharf. So something we should continue to do is to be grateful to all the firefighters who do work for us and acknowledge them,” said Fitimaula.
Today’s event is very import as we continue to honour the firefighters and the work they do, because if we don’t, they don’t know how important their work is for us.
“They did so much for my school, being the first help there, the comfort that they give, and just the inspirations as well for kids to see that there are those who help and give sacrificially.
“They are ordinary men and women but they give their lives and their bravery five minutes longer than the rest of us.”
The Leading Firefighter for the S.F.E.S.A. Asau station, Lava Joe Simon, said family support was key in their line of work.
“We… serve and work for our country not only the fire incidents but different emergencies. We offer and do the best we can to save lives and help our people,” said Simon.
“It is hard but with the support of our families and friends can make the work easier and possible. I want to thank all our families and friends in Samoa and around the world for your prayers and your support.”