Rural firefighters combine forces
Top brass of New Zealand rural firefighting met at the Marlborough Emergency Operations Centre in Blenheim last night for the official formation of the region's newly amalgamated rural fire authority.
Marlborough-Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority interim board chairman Mark Wheeler said disparate fire organisations and individuals had become jointly responsible for maintaining and improving rural firefighting standards.
"The authority won't be judged by what happens in boardrooms but in [the field], especially when there are fires," Mr Wheeler said.
Prepare, prevent and protect is the mantra of the authority which combines Marlborough north, Marlborough south, Kaikoura and Conservation Department rural fire forces, along with the Marlborough and Kaikoura district councils.
Working together under general manager and principal rural fire officer Richard McNamara, they could achieve more, Mr Wheeler said.
Past mayor of Kaikoura, Danny Smith, has been appointed independent chairman of the authority board. He said the enlarged authority would pool firefighting resources, equipment and volunteers.
"There will be savings at the end of the day," he said.
Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain said this was the second rural fire district to become enlarged since this strategy was introduced by national rural fire officer Murray Dudfield in 2010. Forty per cent of New Zealand was now under enlarged rural fire districts, Mr Tremain said.
Mr Dudfield said the National Rural Fire Authority had committed $125,000 towards administration of the enlarged fire districts in their first five years of operation, as an incentive to take this big step.
With technology such as the internet, cellphones and iPads available, it made sense to amalgamate administration, he said.
- The Marlborough Express