SFESA was part of the Ministry of Police and Prisons before it was separated to become a Government Authority in 2005. Even though the separation became official, its budget was still part of the Ministry of Police and Prison’s budget until 2007 when its primary legislation “Fire and Emergency Services Act” was enacted by Parliament in February 2007. It was also at this time that it officially became a Public Beneficial Body. At the beginning, there was only one fire station which is now the Apia Station. Faleata Station was established in 2009 whilst the Asau Station and Maota Station (relocated from Salelologa where it was originally established) were established in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
SFESA’s main regulatory functions include the provision of fire suppression and emergency response services to the people of Samoa including the EMR service. It is also tasked with a Search and Rescue (SAR) function on land and at sea. Sea SAR services are mainly conducted with the assistance of the Ministry of Police particularly where the scope of the Authority’s services ends. Over the last several years, this area of the Authority’s services has increased slightly due to concentrated efforts on awareness and prevention campaigns.
The EMR services continue to increase significantly from one financial year to another and since the establishment of the NECC 911 emergency number in January 2018, the Authority has been inundated with calls for assistance particularly its ambulance services. Although the service was taken up by the Authority around 2012, it only averaged at around 200 per year or less than one a day. At present, the services provided by the EMR Team averages six to eight responses a day with SFESA envisaging further increases as the service is taken to Asau Station.
Safety and Awareness campaigns form a vital part of the work of the Authority with notable increases in the roles of the staff targeting awareness and prevention programs in communities, workplaces and schools. The work of Fire Safety is crucial to the work of the Fire Suppression Team given their role to raise the general awareness of the people of Samoa to prevent fire and deter the occurrence of other emergencies.