Fire and Emergency New Zealand committed to learning from Port Hills fires response.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency New Zealand committed to learning from Port Hills fires response.

Today Fire and Emergency New Zealand has released the independent review into the operational response to the Port Hills Fires.

The review was conducted by Alan Goodwin of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council (AFAC), who has over 25 years’ experience in wildfires and has led several large operational reviews in Australia.

The then New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) and National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA) commissioned AFAC to conduct an independent operational review of the event to learn from the response. The focus of the review was to make recommendations on how the now newly established Fire and Emergency New Zealand will carry out its duties in the future.

“The Port Hills fires were one of the biggest and most complex in New Zealand’s history,” said Fire and Emergency Chief Executive, Rhys Jones.

 “The Review found that while firefighters from across the agencies did a lot of things well there are areas we need to improve,” he said. “We accept the Review’s findings and have developed an Action Plan to set out how we will respond to meeting each of the recommendations. 

“The Action Plan focuses on three main outcomes -  improving how our firefighters and incident management team operate and work together; the safety of our firefighters; and keeping the community at the heart of our work before, during and after an incident.

“The main difference is, next time, it will be one organisation responding to the fire.  Fire and Emergency New Zealand has brought together urban and rural firefighters from 38 different fire agencies into one organisation under one piece of legislation. The lessons from these fires and this Review will be help us build our new organisation into one that serves our communities best,” said Mr Jones.

Fire and Emergency has a range of information that people in the community can use to help protect their families and property this coming fire season.  The Port Hills fires showed that rural fires can easily take hold in what many would consider an urban setting.  The fire risk is something everyone needs to be aware of and prepared for.  You can check the fire risk in your area by going to www.checkitsalright.nz.  

 “I want to acknowledge the people who lost so much as a result of the Port Hills fires. You have my deepest sympathies and commitment to improving how our new organisation, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, responds to events like this in the future."

“I also want to thank all firefighters, emergency responders, support personnel and community volunteers who worked tirelessly in very difficult conditions to keep Christchurch safe.”

--ENDS--

All information is available at: www.fireandemergency.nz/port-hills

For more information, contact Lucy Ashby, Senior Advisor – Media, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.  Lucy.Ashby@fireandemergency.nz or 027 591 8837