In this year 2018, the mana of our akua has been active and on vibrant display across the islands. Massive brush fires in Waikōloa, Mākaha, Wai‘anae and Kaua‘ula have tested the capacity of our local fire departments. Hurricanes and tropical storms have drenched the islands with record-setting rainfall saturating the ‘āina with historic floods in Hanalei, Wainiha and Hā‘ena. Pele has awakened to share her being with the Kīlauea, Puna and Kapoho areas. Our kānaka must be proactive and prepared for an unnerving future involving emergency management, incident command and post-disaster recovery.

Fire Prevention Week 2018 is upon us from Oct. 7 through the 13. This year’s Fire Prevention Week Theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

All of Hawai‘i’s fire departments ask that our community be maka‘ala and take a good look around your home, identify potential fire hazards, and take care of them through proper housekeeping, storage and elimination. We ask that you recognize and ho‘olohe (listen) for the kani (sound) of the smoke alarms and to ho‘opa‘a (set) your escape route towards a designated meeting place for the ‘ohana. For life safety, please make sure that all escape routes to the outside, including windows, doors and stairs, are accessible, operational and free of clutter.

From Nov. 15-18, the Kaua‘i Fire Department will be hosting the Hawai‘i Fire Chiefs Association Annual Training Conference. This year’s theme, “Ka Wehe Ana O Ke Alaula – Opening a Pathway to Dawn, Transcending Tradition towards a New Frontier,” captures the generational shift in the Hawai‘i fire service, reflecting the latest wave of retirements of our most experienced personnel and ushering in the succession of new leadership in the public safety realm. Collectively, the April 2018 floods on Kaua‘i, Madame Pele’s volcanic activity on Hawai‘i, and the successive makani pāhili interacting with our islands are poignantly symbolic of the new norms demanded of the fire service, emergency management and the community.

While fire, floods and lava have attracted our focus, our kaiāulu must also be vigilant of the health and well-being of our ‘ohana. Fire service responds to exponentially more emergency medical service (EMS) calls than fires. An increased kūpuna population contributes to EMS calls involving falls, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and stroke.

Proactive health approaches in prevention, physical exercise, behavioral health awareness and cultural interventions can increase longevity in life. Not being afraid to understand our health issues will only help to promote intelligent choices in the future and greater interaction of keiki, mākua and kūpuna. Ke aloha nui.