Firefighters across Marlborough are now all part of a single organisation, whether they’re fulltime members of the Blenheim brigade or rural volunteers.
In Marlborough, the crews, urban and rural, paid and volunteers, have all worked together on big fires but were from two separate organisations – Marlborough-Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority (MKRFA) and the NZ Fire Service. Each provided valuable skills for Civil Defence in events such as the recent earthquakes.
From 1 July, a new integrated organisation known as Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) comes into effect. Marlborough will be the base for FENZ Regional Manager Rural, Richard McNamara, who will now be responsible for a large part of the South Island, from the West Coast and South Canterbury to the top of the south.
Under the restructuring, MKRFA and Council-owned firefighting equipment will be transferred to the new organisation. But Civil Defence emergencies such as large floods or earthquakes will continue to be managed from the Emergency Operations Centre in Wither Road, and FENZ will provide Civil Defence support.
“For firefighters in our region it’s business as usual; preventing and responding to emergencies will always be our number one priority,” says Richard McNamara. “The change will not disrupt current services and people should still call 111 in an emergency.”
The existing process for applying for both urban and rural fire permits will continue unchanged for the immediate future.