Well the summer season is almost upon us and already there have been a number of major fires around the country. Two members of the Lake Okareka Fire Force recently participated in a national deployment to the Wairarapa for a pine plantation fire. Conditions for the summer months are predicted to be increasingly volatile with the El Nino weather pattern bringing hot, dry and strong westerly winds.
With the restricted fire season (October to April) now in force, fire permits are a must at this time of the year which includes everything from incinerator fires to braziers, to bonfires, charcoal barbeques and hangis. If you have a fire permit, please phone in to notify Rotorua Lakes Council when you are going to light the fire and to check the conditions. Often, if the wind gets up and/or conditions become extremely dry, permits can be put on hold or even cancelled. If a total fire ban comes into effect any visible signs of smoke must be reported immediately via the 111 emergency system.
In early December, a combined live fire training exercise was held one weekend with the Lake Okareka, Tarawera and West Rotoiti Rural Fire Forces at Linton Park in town. This involved co-ordination of all the crews to clear some significant slash piles from trees that had been felled at the park, and included working with helicopters and monsoon buckets.
Also, at the beginning of December, an awards ceremony was held in the Rotorua Lakes Council Chambers for the Rotorua District‘s fire forces to recognise members for their respective years of service to the community, achievement of national qualifications in fire and rescue services, and participation of Okareka members in the Sky Tower Challenge event earlier in the year. The awards were presented by Mayor Steve Chadwick, and the ceremony was well attended by members of the three rural fire forces and their families.
The Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force wishes the community all the best for the upcoming festive season. Take care on and around the lake and forests, and while travelling around the country.
For anyone wanting to contact the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force, please phone me on 3628874 or go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com
Chief Fire Officer