F.E.S.A. office "too small" for growing staff: report

The headquarters of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority on Beach Road in Apia is struggling to house its growing staff numbers.

The expanding FESA workforce and the limitations in office space was highlighted in the F.E.S.A. annual report 2019-2020 which stated that its main office is too small for all the necessary personnel for both fire safety and corporate services.

"Hence there is a wider need for a better facility for the main office to relocate to whilst the shift crews remain in the stations to deliver first responding services," the report reads.

"Management and the Board envisages that a new building needs to be constructed and funding must be secured in the next couple of years to undertake this project."

Meanwhile, the Faleolo Fire Station is expected to commence preparatory work in the current financial year, the report adds.

The authority has three stations servicing the country: Asau and Maota for Savai'i and Faleata and Apia for Upolu.

The Asau Station has yet to receive an ambulance, due to a staffing shortage. The Authority also anticipates that there will be a need to increase the number of experienced staff. 

The report noted that the authority identified the need for a complete team to equip the ambulance vehicles and to be separate from the fire-fighting crews; a necessity when considering the emergency medical response services data in past years. 

The F.E.S.A. annual report noted that compared to the previous financial year, there was an increase of 37 per cent in the demand for the authority’s ambulance services.

Additionally, the same report also highlighted the need for the "ageing fleet" of the authority to be upgraded. 

"It continues to be costly yet to purchase new vehicles, fire/ambulance tools and equipment continues to be reliant on development partners and donor agencies," the report reads.

"Without these assistances, SFESA will have difficulty in securing fleets for its daily emergency operations. It is necessary for the Authority to maintain positive relationships with its development partners who are able to assist in the [improvement] and procurement of much needed responding appliances as well as the necessary tools and equipment."

F.E.S.A. also expressed concern that the "high" risks of decreases in budget allocation from the Government which can impact the delivery of their essential services to the public. 

At the same time, the authority recognises the need to expand their financing avenues to assist in supporting their operations over the long term period.

Moving forward, the F.E.S.A. aims to increase its service delivery in the areas of fire suppression and emergency medical response (E.M.R.) which produce the highest volume of activities for the authority. 

"Additionally, we will consider utilization of online virtual platforms to push for concentrated awareness of safety measures and messages for the people of Samoa," the report notes.

"Our 2021/2024 [Corporate Plan] identifies key areas that will be targeted by the Authority in the 2021 FY including greater emphasis on raising the level of knowledge and skill-sets for the first responders to undertake their duties and responsibilities. 

"It is also equally as important for the 2021 FY that the Authority is financially stable to meet its obligations in terms of its projects earmarked for completion."

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