Firefighters in 'miners cabins' for few years

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 08:43 27/06/2012

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Christchurch firefighters based at four earthquake-damaged stations will be working from temporary "miners cabins" for the next few years at least, the fire service says.

Woolston, Lyttelton, New Brighton and central city stations were significantly damaged during Canterbury's major earthquakes, with firefighters having to work out of temporary portable buildings until a permanent recovery plan was in place.

Temporary buildings had been constructed near each of the damaged stations, providing office space and accommodation for staff working nights.

Christchurch assistant area manager Greg Crawford said the "miners cabins" were not ideal, but they could be moved ''if and when we need to''.

''We don't know how long we're going to be here; we don't know if we're going to rebuild here,'' he said.

''We've had to make do and you have to take your hat off to the disruption the [firefighters] have been through.''

About 80 staff, including regional and area management, were based at the central station, while about 16 were based at each of the other three stations.

Part of the central station had already been demolished, while Lyttelton's station was ''only weeks away'' from being demolished.

Woolston's old station was also likely to be demolished and would probably need to be rebuilt on a completely different site as it had always had problems with water running underneath the building, Crawford said.

Christchurch's strategic redevelopment director, area commander Paul Henderson, said the city's recovery plan would take several years to develop.

''We're looking at where we need fire stations in Christchurch; that's changed because of the demographic movement. We tend to put stations where the main demand for our services are.''

Historically, demand for those services had been in lower socio-economic areas, such as Christchurch's eastern suburbs, but it was possible some stations would need to be moved, or the city could end up with more or fewer stations, he said.

Call rates had dropped significantly in central Christchurch ''for obvious reasons'', but they did not appear tohave changed much elsewhere in the city.

''We have been relatively busy in the areas where there's unoccupied houses, but generally there hasn't been a marked increase and there hasn't been a marked decrease.''

There had been fears arsonists would target abandoned houses, but despite a spate of suspicious fires in March, that had not been a concern yet, he said.

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