New home for USAR members

Last updated 12:00 14/03/2014

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Central region's Urban Search and Rescue members will have a new space to operate and train from after a $200,000 upgrade to a block of offices behind the Palmerston North Fire Station.

The space, which used to house the communications centre when calls were managed at a local level, had been used as offices before its makeover.

Manawatu fire area manager Mitchell Brown said work started on the building at the beginning of February, and was expected to finish in the next few weeks.

Palmerston North is the central hub for the lower North Island USAR members, accompanying Auckland and Christchurch, and the new space would give USAR a conference room and training area that opens out to the drill-yard behind the fire station.

The building also houses offices for the USAR manager, rural fire officer and Maori iwi liaison officer.

Mr Brown said the upgrade came as the unit moved to new capabilities and looked toward gaining full certification from the United Nations International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

Certification will further prepare USAR nationally to deploy overseas, under the UN umbrella, to disasters in the Pacific, Australia and South-east Asia.

A trial exercise with inspectors from Australia, who are already qualified, will take place in Palmerston North later this year.

Inspectors are expected to assess New Zealand teams' capabilities next year.

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- Manawatu Standard

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