Phil Muldoon, Lana Muldoon, Santa Claus & Ray Doyle. Photo Credit: Lake Ōkāreka Preschool
Thanks to the ongoing work of Jason Thom at Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) and the Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC), initial works have commenced for the new fire station build project with Unison completing work on the underground and overhead power lines. Also, as an interim measure, as agreed through the resource consent process, FENZ have adjusted the siren on the old station to an undulating warning alarm that shuts down automatically after 90 seconds. FENZ and RLC, along with the various consultants involved, are in the process of finalizing all building requirements before site works get underway. Although this part of the process has taken longer than anticipated, it is important that time is spent on getting these critical details right to ensure the final build is fit for purpose. Lake Ōkāreka Rural Fire greatly appreciates the continued support and background work being undertaken for this project.
In May, we will have another team of firefighters from Lake Ōkāreka competing in the annual Sky Tower Firefighter Stair Climb. We have a record number in this year’s team with 11 members having signed-up for the challenge, comprising 8 men and 3 ladies, with ages ranging from 17 to those of us in the ‘more mature’ category. The team will be getting underway with training for this event over the coming months, along with fundraising for Leukemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand. If you would like to support the Lake Ōkāreka Rural Fire team fundraising effort, please go to the www.firefightersclimb.org.nz website and donate online.
Regular weekly training sessions for both new and experienced firefighters continues to be an ongoing focus for the brigade. This has also been well supported by FENZ through formal training courses that have been attended by various members. In addition to this, a number of the more experienced Lake Ōkāreka Rural Fire members are registered on the FENZ Fire Deployment database. The extreme and volatile conditions currently occurring in Australia have seen a number of New Zealand crews deployed to assist the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Victoria since November. Further crews will be deployed in January which may again include Lake Ōkāreka personnel.
The last month or so has seen an increase in fire-related call-outs in the LŌCA district. As hot, dry and windy conditions are projected to continue over the summer months, the fire risk will also increase. Any fire can quickly take hold and get out of control as occurred recently on the Coromandel where a fire was started by some fireworks. This provides a timely reminder that we are now in the Prohibited Fire Season and only gas and charcoal barbecue's can be used. Please be vigilant over the summer months with fire restrictions and permits, and check the conditions and any restrictions in force on the day of your permitted burn. To check the season status for your location, please visit www.checkitsalright.nz or call 0800 658 628. Further information about fire seasons is available on www.fireandemergency.nz.
If you have been thinking about joining and would like to see what we are about, please come down to the fire station at 7:30pm on a Wednesday night when we do training or phone me on 3628 874. You can also go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com.
We wish the community all the best for a safe summer holiday season.