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International Firefighter's Day, 04th May 2024

After the deaths of five firefighters in Australia on December 2, 1998, while fighting a bushfire, Australian firefighter JJ Edmondson proposed the establishment of International Firefighters' Day (IFFD) on January 4, 1999.

The ribbons chosen for FFD symbolize the main elements we deal with - red for fire and blue for water. These colors are also universally known for their connection to emergency services.

The date, 4th of May, coincided with the feast day of St Florian, who is known as the patron saint of firefighters and was the original leader of a firefighting unit in the Roman Empire. He lost his life, as well as those of his men, for protecting the same humane ideas which firefighters all over the world share even today.

Since 2022, Tonga Fire and Emergency Services has joined others including our friends in Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority and other countries within the region in celebrating International Firefighters Day. 

This year's International Firefighter's Day, we hoped to celebrate our firefighters as much and as best as we can. We kicked off our festivities with our usual monthly General Meeting, which was hosted by our Women in Fire and Emergency Services (WIFES) members. The theme for this monthly General Meeting was based off Daniel 3:13-18 which tells the story about the faith of four young Jews who were thrown into a fiery furnace after they refused to pray to the idols as commanded by the King of Babylon at that time. This theme had coincided with the message of faith and resilience that we as firefighters hold dear to our heart each and every time we are called to duty, whenever flames may rage, to lean on God for his protection and guiding hand. 

On Thursday, our Sports Committee in conjunction with our Firefighter's Day Committee, hosted our second annual Sports Day Event, and this year we had officially renamed our Sports event to our Tamate Afi Championship Games. All members were divided into 6 groups: The Lapaha Knights, Red Zone, Tofoa Warriors, Ha'asini Roosters, Pitu Hule and Fire Angels. All teams participated in a number of events, the Triathlon, Volleyball, Sack Race, Donning and Doffing, 4 x 400m Relay and our Tug of War. Other competitions included Best Cheerleader, Best Parade, Best Uniform and Best all around. We are most grateful to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Kingdom of Tonga for sponsoring this year's Tamate Afi Champion Games and Firefighter's Memorial Walk, had it not been for your generous support, this week would not have been as memorable and enjoyable for our firefighters. We would also like thank Connect - to George and his team, and Sparepart Zone for your generous donation which was used to help support and celebrate our members during our Championship Games. 

Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we were not able to host our Memorial Walk, however, we would like to the Honorable Prime Minister for still making the time to meet our firefighters and thank them for their Service, our friends from foreign governments, family and friends for all the support and standing ready to champion our event. 

We would also like to thank our Tonga Fire and Emergency Services members. Whether it be running into a burning building, directing traffic, climbing ladders, going into that house, crawling into a confined space, operating heavy equipment, moving through a hostile environment, or driving into mother nature. Thank you for coming back to work after that difficult call, you saw the worst, you helped, and it didn’t go as planned and yet you came back. Thank you to all your families for enduring the challenges that come with your livelihood and service to others, for dedication to complete strangers. Make sure YOU thank them too. 

Thank you for putting your lives on hold and missing family functions, holidays, children’s events and doctors’ appointments, thank you for the many hours you have sacrificed to serve and protect our people, it has not gone unnoticed, today is a reminder that your sacrifice is not unwitnessed and is not ignored. I, thank you, your families thank you, your friends thank you and your people – WE ALL THANK YOU!