False fire alarms prompt action

Marlborough volunteer firefighters will no longer have to respond to false alarm callouts at Base Woodbourne, near Blenheim.

A Royal New Zealand Defence Force spokeswoman said qualified air force firefighters would be put on a roster to monitor the alarm system after Renwick and Blenheim volunteer fire brigades each responded to about 25 false alarm callouts at the base since July.

The air force firefighter monitoring the alarm system would immediately respond to establish whether the alarm was a system fault or a fire, the spokeswoman said.

"Marlborough fire brigades will not be alerted unless a fire is confirmed," the spokeswoman said.

The New Zealand Fire Service's Tasman area manager, Graeme Daikee, said the service appreciated the co-operative and positive response the air force made to the false alarm callouts to the Woodbourne base.

"The decision to monitor the alarm was made carefully, taking into account fire-risk management principles and the high standards of training of the Defence Force's personnel."

On Monday, firefighters responded to three unnecessary callouts at Woodbourne.

The first false alarm happened at 5.34am, followed by a call at 6.02am, and a third at 7.24pm.

A Defence Force spokeswoman said on Tuesday that an independent fire engineer was reviewing the faulty alarm system.

"We are trying to fix it as quickly as we can," she said.

Before July last year, the Defence Force fire crew at Woodbourne responded first to any calls at the base.

However, cuts to the service meant on-site firefighters worked only on weekdays from 8am to 5pm, leaving the Renwick Volunteer Fire Brigade as the first emergency response outside those hours.

The Marlborough Express