Record callouts for fire brigades

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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Phone lines have been running hot for South Canterbury's volunteer fire brigades.

Many of the district's brigades have had a busy year, mainly due to strong winds and more calls for firefighters to assist in medical situations, a spokesman says.

Fire service assistant area manager Steven Greenyer said many of the brigades had an increase in callouts, but Temuka, Waimate and Geraldine received the most.

Temuka has had 181 callouts for the year to date, up from 158 in 2012. Waimate has had 157 in the year to date (83 last year). For the year to date Geraldine has had 152 callouts (85 last year).

Waimate Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Duncan Lyall said it had been a record year for the brigade. He attributes the increase to strong winds in September and October. The district's brigades were called on over that period to help clear fallen trees and power poles, and to put out fires.

"We usually [get] about 80 or 90 [callouts a year]. We had 20-odd in the high winds [alone]."

The brigade, which consists of 27 volunteers, had also experienced an increase in medical callouts over the past year, he said.

Geraldine Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Rob Hands said strong winds and medical callouts were among the reasons for Geraldine's increase.

The number of vegetation fires, car crashes and structure fires had also increased in the area.

It was potentially the busiest year for the brigade, he said.

"It might be the first time ever [we've had] 150 calls for the brigade. The highest before that was 120 to 130. That was back in the 1986 floods."

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