Fire Authority Urges Improved Hydrant Pressure After Defence Club Blaze

Fiji’s national fire authority has called for improved water pressure at fire hydrants, highlighting the importance of water in firefighting.

NFA Chief Executive Puamau Sowane made the call based on their struggles during a 7-hour operation yesterday morning to put out the fire that damaged up to 90% of the 109-year-old Defence Club in Suva.

“We can have the latest firefighting machines and the best skilled firefighters in the world but without good water supply, all becomes useless,” he said. “We need volumes of water supply with good pressure to have effective firefighting. Unfortunately, what we experienced … and all other times is very poor water pressure in most fire hydrants.”

Recounting their officers’ experience, Sowane said: “The fire hydrants along that road all have the same line and when our firefighters use one fire hydrant the next one dries up.”

He suggested increasing the water mains diameter feeding all fire hydrants, particularly within city, town, and fire boundaries. According to Sowane, this is crucial, especially in densely populated areas. He also believes that each standing fire hydrant should be equipped with the capacity to dissipate water at a rate of 1000 litres per minute. 

“We cannot overemphasise the importance of having all fire hydrants feeding directly from the water main for effective firefighting. Once we receive an emergency fire call from members of the public, we contact Energy Fiji Limited to cut off electricity and Water Authority to key off some critical water mains to build up good water pressure in the affected areas.”

Meanwhile, investigations into the origins of the fire are still being investigated. The fire was reported to NFA around 8.30am yesterday.

The Defence Club on Suva’s Gordon Street housed offices, a bar, two squash courts and an office for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Photo: NFA

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