MFS firefighters help combat Tonga's road toll

MFS firefighters help combat Tonga’s road toll

Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) firefighters are helping Tongan firefighters to combat the Pacific island nation’s road toll.

Two MFS firefighters have journeyed to Tonga to deliver road crash rescue and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) training to Tonga Fire and Emergency Services (TFES) firefighters.

They’ve also trained local firefighters in using two of the latest restored South Australian fire trucks donated to TFES. The retired MFS and Country Fire Service (CFS) water tankers arrived in mid-June and are the 21st and 22nd fire trucks the MFS has arranged to donate to Tonga since 2004.MFS Image - Tonga fire trucks 20170726_113342

The supportive partnership between MFS and TFES forged in 2004

The MFS and TFES developed a supportive partnership in 2004 when the two fire agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

MFS firefighters had visited Tonga in 2003 and were confronted by the realities at the time.

Tongan firefighters would respond to emergencies without helmets, gloves, boots or breathing apparatus, while only four deteriorating firefighting jackets were shared between 50 personnel.

Since the MoU, all TFES firefighters now respond to emergencies with the appropriate, donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which has greatly enhanced their safety.

After 14 years, the alliance between the MFS and TFES remains strong. The fire services continue to exchange personnel, information, educational materials, training and equipment.

Combatting Tonga’s road toll through road crash rescue training

The two MFS firefighters who are currently visiting Tonga are road crash rescue specialists who will deliver training to help TFES firefighters respond to road crashes.

MFS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Glenn Benham, said he understands that road conditions in Tonga have improved in recent years.

“Improved roads have enabled motorists to drive at higher speeds – and this is believed to have had had an unfortunate impact on the road toll.”

“The MFS is pleased to have sent two firefighters who specialise in Road Crash Rescue (RCR) to Tonga. They’ve delivered expert training to TFES firefighters, who’ll now be able to apply their enhanced skills when responding to road crashes,” MFS ACFO Benham said.

The MFS firefighters who travelled to Tonga are also USAR specialists, meaning they provided TFES with contemporary disaster response training to help Tongan firefighters to prepare for a potential cyclone, flood or tsunami.