The Transalpine Fire Region team cover about 6.5 million hectares. The Transalpine Fire Region has a strong volunteer component with only two paid fire districts, working out of eight fire stations, and 66 stations crewed by volunteers. This mix places a strong emphasis on supporting the volunteers.
Urban/rural interface is well represented on the Rural Fire Coordination Committees. These cover 13 local territorial authorities servicing Canterbury and the West Coast. The amalgamation of a number of authorities has been beneficial in the consistency and service delivery in the rural environment.
- Fire safety departments focus on providing a quality service to chief fire officers
- Setting up of key function groups and areas of responsibility
- Excellent working relationships with all local authorities, and many flow-on benefits
- Focussed and active child intervention programme including frequent contributions to newspapers and other media outlets
- Ongoing fire safety programmes to hospitals, polytechnics, industry, rest homes and community groups
- Regular radio talk back programmes covering a large portion of the South Island
- Setting up a combined education tent and promotions vehicle as a region resource
- Development of a comprehensive cause concept towards fire investigations.
The wider operational brigade teams are achieving significant fire prevention and education gains in our communities by such excellent initiatives as:
- Smoke alarm campaigns, with some brigades achieving smoke alarms in every home in their town
- Continuing to contribute to extensive smoke alarm education programmes
- Consulting with community groups
- Talking fire engine 'Flick' for young children
- Support for national fire safety programmes
- Confident living programme for the elderly.
Urban Search and Rescue
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is an expanding network of international task forces ready to respond to a range of incidents where there is a need for specialist rescources to locate and remove trapped and often injured victims from collapsed structures or environments. The New Zealand Fire Service is part of this international community. We have developed three task forces that are capable of responding individually or in various combinations of personnel and equipment from any of the groups. Task Force 1 is based in Palmerston North, Task Force 2 is based in Christchurch (Transalpine Fire Region) and Task Force 3 is in Auckland.
Although structural collapse is the primary focus for USAR teams, all personnel are cross-trained to deal with a variety of emergencies which may be encountered to which there is no specialist response available ie:
- Earthquakes, landslides and subsidence
- Hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes
- Technological accidents and hazardous material releases
- Terrorist activities
- Construction accidents
New Zealand USAR brings together an integrated response of:
- Highly trained personnel from emergency services along with engineers, medics and search dogs
- Specialised equipment
- Effective Communications
- Established methods of command and control with CIMS (Co-ordinated Incident Management System)
- Logistical support
- Procedures to request international assistance if required under an international search and rescue framework (INSARAG)
- Self-sufficiency means repairing your own equipment.
The aim of the establishing the National Task Force for USAR is to provide a multi-agency response to anywhere in New Zealand for structural collapse and other long-duration special incidents. The task force is self sufficient for the first 72 hours and capable of undertaking continuous 24 hour operations. As well as the ability to deploy nationally it is envisaged that the Task Force will deploy internationally in the pacific basin if requested by other nations under the INSARAG procedural framework.
Task Force 2 Organisation:
- The team comprises of 32 USAR Technicians plus support staff, which allows for two watches, able to work 12 hour shifts around the clock
- Support is provided by a structural engineer, qualified paramedics, certified search dog teams, Planning/Logistics, specialist communications and administrative personnel
- The team is lead by a Task Force Leader and Deputy Leader, with two operations managers
- Team members are a mix from NZ Fire Service, St John Ambulance, Territorial Authorities, Civil Defence, specialist search dog owners, NZ Army, Christchurch Hospital and a private engineering practice
- All specialist rescue equipment is stored in customised storage containers to facilitate fast and easy loading for transport by land, sea or air
- The task force meets international standards for ongoing training and availability
- All contributing emergency services' resources are available on a stand-by basis and are alerted as required through a paging system
- Defence Force personel are available through a Mmorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Defence.