Services remember quake fallen

19:00, Feb 22 2013
manawatu fire service silence
TEAMWORK: Members of Manawatu emergency services, outside Palmerston North Fire Station yesterday, observe a minute’s silence at 12.51pm – the same time 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck two years ago.

For all the bad things the earthquake of February 22, 2011, brought to the country, a Manawatu fire chief says it demonstrated the quality of emergency services.

Firefighters, along with representatives from St John and the army, held a minute's silence at 12.51pm yesterday - exactly two years after the earthquake struck.

Manawatu fire area commander Mitchell Brown said New Zealand's emergency services demonstrated their quality during the aftermath.

"It was what we had all been training for, but the first time actually doing it.

"For me it was an amazing experience because, in our lifetime, we will hopefully never see something as dramatic again."

Mr Brown's role was to liaise with Urban Search and Rescue teams from the bunker underneath the Beehive in Wellington.


The task involved organising the international search and rescue teams as well.

He said it was hard work: "For the first 36 hours I didn't sleep. I didn't see light for days on end. I went into the bunker on Tuesday and didn't come out until Friday afternoon."

Feedback from the international teams had been positive, he said.

"They said they had seen nothing anywhere as good in other countries, so we can be proud of our people here. Our obligation now is to be able to offer support for those other countries."

Staff at the Palmerston North fire station were also given their Canterbury earthquake citations yesterday.

Mr Brown said handing out the citations this year was appropriate after a delay last year.

"Last year was still a bit raw, while this year we have moved on a little bit further.

"You can get to a point where you can say good things have come out of it." Tears flow, P6

Manawatu Standard