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Opening Hazmat Office

Earlier today, 14th of March 2024, TFES held a soft opening of its new Hazmat office in Lotoha’apai where its Emergency Response Department will relocate and oversee all non-fire emergency incidents, or specifically any hazmat related emergencies. Fire and Emergency Commissioner Tu’ihalamaka officially commissioned the HazMat Office, along with our Service Chaplain Rev. Semisi Kava present, the Executive Committee and HazMat Team led by Fire Commander Seluiti Latu, Assistant Fire Commander Winston King Vaitaki, Fire Officer Sione Kava and Firefighter Solomone Piutau. 

The implementation of this project began in 2021 and was funded through the Illicit Drugs Response Fund (IDRF) as part of the first phase in implementing TFES’ Action Plan in combatting illicit drugs. Hazardous Materials (HazMat) plays a large role in the creation of illicit drugs such as Methamphetamine (street name of Ice or Crystal meth) is commonly made out of Hydrochloric Acid: extremely corrosive – can eat flesh and Lithium: found in batteries and is highly explosive to name a few. 

As such, TFES has developed a plan to respond to emergency incidents, training and capacity development, financial and physical resource management to provide basic training on hazardous materials as well as developing its team. In 2022, also funded under the IDRF, TFES created two new posts for a newly established unit called the HazMat Unit specializing in responding to any hazmat related incidents in pursuit of the mission to protect life & property to achieve a Safer Tonga, in regard to combating illicit drugs.

Its aim is to ensure that our organization as a whole is well prepared to contribute to the enforcement of combating illicit drugs with the aim of Supply Reduction. This preparation will include the provision of well trained staff throughout the organization to ensure proper response services are available to the country as whole. 

TFES is committed to ensuring the protection of life and people’s properties, by better establishing our hazmat team and implementing this project for preparation in the event clan labs are found. Although there has been no evidence of any clan labs discovered here in Tonga to date, however, as a Fire and Emergency organization, it is our duty to be prepared.