On one particular Saturday morning, we had three weather related call-outs within four hours, one of which was attended by some well-meaning locals. However, upon our arrival at the incident, it was somewhat alarming to note that appropriate safety gear was not in use, no traffic control was in place, and young children were standing on the side of a 100km/hour stretch of road. If you feel obliged to assist at such incidents, please consider joining the Fire Force and obtaining the appropriate training in managing these incidents safely.
Back in December, myself and John Reihana from Rotorua District Council (RDC) took two crews on a seasonal firefighter deployment to a large fire at Leithfield, just north of Christchurch. The crews consisted of volunteer firefighters from Okareka and Rotoiti, and also firefighters from Timberlands. The deployment departed from Rotorua just prior to Christmas and returned several days later (the lengths we go to, to avoid the in-laws at Christmas time!). We had the opportunity to walk through the CBD of Christchurch after the Boxing Day tremor and witness the damage caused by both the September quake and the relatively minor shake the previous day.
After viewing the images on television of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, in conjunction with the NZ Fire Service and RDC, I have volunteered our services as a rural fire force, not only for additional man power but also the use of our water tanker. To date, we have not been called upon.
Richard Horn, our Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer from RDC, has instigated a combined emergency services appeal drive. This will involve going door-to-door throughout Rotorua collecting items deemed urgently required for the relief effort by Civil Defence to assist those directly affected in Christchurch. A date and list of items required will be advertised in the near future. I’m sure the Okareka community will fully support this initiative.
Also, you may be aware of the Neighbours Day event to be held at 7 Steep Street on Saturday, 26 March. The proceeds from this event were to be donated to the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force. A huge thank you to the organisers for this generous offer, however, in light of the tragic events in Christchurch, I feel that the funds raised should be donated to this cause instead.
With autumn just around the corner, now is the time to get your chimneys swept in time for those winter nights. Also, remember to check your smoke detectors when daylight savings ends.
For anyone who is interested in joining the brigade or wanting to contact us, please don’t hesitate to phone me on 362 8874.
Chief Fire Officer