The Wellington Community Risk Management team recently visited the Chatham Islands to support and assist Chatham Islands Volunteer Brigade in delivering community readiness-focused Home Fire Safety Visits..

A fatal house fire in the Chatham Islands last year left a tragic impact on the remote community. This prompted their Local Advisory Committee to invite members of the Wellington Community Risk Management team to visit, and support and assist Chatham Islands Volunteer Brigade in delivering community readiness focused Home Fire Safety Visits.

Each year we provide around 15,000 free Home Fire Safety Visits across Aotearoa. They are one of the key tools we use to help keep communities safer, in and around their homes. A Home Fire Safety Visit involves our people going into homes, talking through some of the key risks of fire, and things to do to address those risks.

With the fatal fire a stark reminder of the destruction fire can cause, the visits and help from our team was warmly welcomed. Using footage captured of our teams on the island, a new Community Readiness promotional video was released on our YouTube channel this week.

Phil Soal, Wellington District’s Community Risk Manager was one of the visiting team and said ‘the message we want to get across to communities is that they need to be prepared. It's not all just about putting in smoke alarms, it's about making sure residents have good practices’.

While on the island our team was able to also speak to schools and community groups. Philip Graydon, Principal of the local Kaingaroa School, commended the efforts of the visiting team, ‘Having Fire and Emergency coming is a fantastic help for us. We try to teach children early on about fire safety. It's important that when so far away from the fire brigade we don't have accidents; we try to prevent them.’

Chatham’s Chief Fire Officer Steve Joyce noted the unique challenges faced in remote communities, ‘We don't have backup from another brigade nearby, so working towards helping address the safety issues that come with fire is one of our biggest challenges. Once they call us, it's usually too late.’

During the visit, Wellington Senior Community Readiness and Recovery Advisor Mirren Allan said, ‘the idea is, once people have put in those thoughts and that planning, they're going to be prepared in their own home … then also more prepared as a community.’

The national Community Readiness and Recovery directorate is currently developing an updated Home Fire Safety Visit toolkit for use during visits, which will be shared once available.

People can request a free Home Fire Safety Visit through our website at link) or by contacting their local fire station or District office.


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