The Okato fire station is being kitted out with a new generator that will allow it to be used as an emergency power source during storms.
Okato Volunteer Fire Brigade has been given a $10,000 grant to go towards the power generator as part of the TSB Community Trust's third funding round for the 2012-13 financial year.
Okato fire chief John Nicholls said the idea for a generator was prompted by concerns following the extensive power cuts caused by the storm that lashed Patea and Waverley in March this year.
"Fire stations became centres for people to seek help and welfare," he said.
"While we carry generators on our trucks, they're only small and don't give us enough capacity to really support a community as well as we'd like."
He said Okato was affected by wild weather earlier this year, and it was important for the brigade to be able to provide support and resilience to the community in times of need.
Lines company Powerco sponsored the alterations to the station's electrics to allow it to run the generator, and local electrical firm Sinclair Electrical sold them a generator at a reduced price.
Mr Nicholls said the brigade was grateful for the generosity from the three entities.
He said the Okato fire station, which opened in 2008, was the newest building in town, so the likelihood of it being severely damaged was remote. "We think it's an ideal place to co-ordinate any community responses."
Powerco experienced their worst ever damage in March with 30,000 South Taranaki customers without power and 600 overhead lines shattered.
Mr Nicholls said although Okato only lost power for a couple of hours during the storms this year, there was the risk of losing it for a number of days, as happened to Patea and Waverley.
"We believe it's not a pie in the sky thing. Historically, we get hammered by storms on the west coast here. It's about being proactive and providing this for our community."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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