19 Dec 2005

Fiji fire chief rejects claims they responded too slowly to big Suva fire

4:26 pm on 19 December 2005

The Chief at the National Fire Authority in Fiji says he is happy with the efficiency of his service despite threats of legal action from retailers affected by a major fire.

A major blaze destroyed the Morris Hedstrom supermarket and damaged adjacent buildings in Suva at the weekend.

Retailers say fire fighters took more than half-an-hour to arrive at the site and they were handicapped by faulty fire hydrants and low water pressure.

However Greg Allisey says a fire-truck arrived at the scene 8 minutes after an emergency call was placed.

Mr Allisey also says his men did the best job they could and he denies claims they are inefficient.

"I believe that they are totally misguided but that's not to say that we won't sit down and have a look at our operations and just ensure that what did happen can't be improved upon but certainly the claims that are being made at the moment I believe are unfounded. We had no problems with any of our equipment, we had no break-downs , it was just purely a lack of water and to have to run the distances we did to open water supplies is a huge task for any fire brigade."

Mr Allisey says the Authority, City Council and Minstry of Public Works need to address the wtaer pressure problem but it is not the sole responsibility of the NFA.