Samoa’s first certified Fire Investigator strengthens local fire service

Apia Samoa- Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority (SFESA), Assistant Commissioner, Aufa’i Petaia returned from Melbourne after completing a twelve-week Fire Investigator course with the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB) Fire Investigation Analysis team.  Assistant Commissioner Petaia’s training costs were covered by the European Union (EU) funded ACP Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) Project as part of its overall work to implement the Samoa Fire Reduction Strategy launched in 2017.

While congratulating Assistant Commissioner Petaia, Mr. Christoph Wagner, the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific said, “The European Union is proud to support Samoa’s first ever fire investigator. This is a commendable achievement for SFESA, and it marks the beginning of a new learning endeavour for Samoa Fire Fighters. By increasing the capacity of local officers, we can ensure a safer Samoa for everyone, and that is ultimately the goal.”

The Samoa Fire Reduction Strategy, created by the SFESA in collaboration with the BSRP Project, aims to reduce household fires in Samoa, whilst also increasing awareness around fire safety. One of the main ways in which the Fire Strategy does this is through strengthening fire investigation capability within the Samoa Fire and Emergency Authority. Having the capacity to investigate how fires start gives the Authority correct information on how to create awareness to prevent further fire risks.

“The three-month training course with the MFB has been such an amazing and immersive experience. I had the opportunity to visit more than twenty fire scenes and learnt from the forensic team about what factors to look out in fire scenes that indicate how a fire starts. Returning to Samoa as a certified fire investigator gives me the opportunity to transfer what I learnt to our local officers.   By equipping our staff with the right knowledge, tools and skills we will be able to provide Samoa with efficient fire and emergency service” said Assistant Commissioner Petaia.

Assistant Commissioner Petaia is the first official fire investigator for Samoa. Upon his return, SFESA is planning to facilitate fire investigator training with eight fire officers to strengthen SFESA capability in fire reduction. The trainings will be facilitated in partnership with MFB, who have partnered with SFESA for over twenty years. The partnership between the SFESA and MFB was formalised by the Pacific Island Emergency Management Alliance (PIEMA) through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016. Like all twinning arrangements facilitated under PIEMA, this is an opportunity for Samoan emergency services to gain knowledge and skills from their overseas-based partners.

“The BSRP Project has been operating in the Pacific region for five years, working directly with fifteen Pacific Island Countries, with the aim to strengthen national disaster management. In Samoa, the BSRP Project works with the National Disaster Management Office to not only improve policies around fire safety, but also support the implementation of those policies. Disaster management can only be effective when operational systems reflect the policy that bring them together, and we will continue to support the implementation of the Fire Reduction Strategy as it will have an overall impact on Samoa fire safety” BSRP Project Manager Taito Nakalevu said.