Keeping communities safe over the break
Many of our people were hard at work over the busy festive season keeping communities safe. Between 14 December and 11 January, our crews attended 7,152 incidents across New Zealand, which is around 120 fewer than the same period last year.
Larger scale events included our response to fires on Matakana Island, and in Ahipara in Northland as well as bouts of heavy rain in the lower South Island which caused flooding and triggered several call outs for our crews.
We’d also like to acknowledge our crews who worked closely with the Department of Corrections, Ara Poutama Aotearoa in their response at Waikeria Prison, and the crews that were part of the response to the fatal shark attack at Waihi Beach.
Our crew from Ngāruawāhia’s Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to a slightly unusual event, where they rescued a herd of 18 cows from the Waipā River. You can read more about the response on Stuff(external link).
Matakana Island fire
Our firefighters were called to a fire on Matakana Island on 13 December which was fuelled by dry pampas grass and gorse. Even now, the fire is not yet fully extinguished and is still burning underground.
The perimeter of the fire was around 50 hectares but the final area burnt is yet to be determined. At the peak of the fire there were 75 firefighters, four heavy machinery and five helicopters on the island. We also flew drones with thermal imaging cameras over the site to identify hot spots to inform our response.
By Christmas Eve, operations on the island had been scaled back. However, firefighters (including volunteers) remained on the island over the Christmas and New Year period to manage hot spots, deal with any flare ups and monitor the site.
During the response, we worked very closely with local Iwi, island residents and land managers.
We will continue to have a presence on the island and will monitor the site until there is significant rainfall and the fire is fully extinguished.
The Ahipara fire in Northland started on 30 December and caused 100 homes to evacuate. Our crews remained working at the fire ground until 3 January.
At its height, nearly 50 firefighters and six helicopters worked to contain the blaze.
During the fire, the Incident Management Team worked closely with iwi, residents and territorial authorities to provide relevant up to date information to affected groups.