Wallacetown Rural Fire get new Truck - 5th Jul 2017


Wallacetown volunteer fire brigade chief fire officer Blair Eade and Southern District principal rural fire officer Elton Smith with the first Fire and Emergency New Zealand truck in Otago and Southland. The truck was handed over to the Wallacetown station on July 1. A new fire truck in Wallacetown is the first instalment of upgrades to fire services in Southland. Southern District principal rural fire officer Elton Smith said urban and rural fire services have merged and are now under one national organisation called Fire and Emergency New Zealand. The New Zealand Fire Service, mainly responsible for urban parts of the country, merged with the National Rural Fire Authority for better efficiency and fire response, Smith said. "We're all one big happy family," he said. READ MORE: *South Canterbury urban and rural fire services under one roof *Higher insurance levies to fund new-look Fire and Emergency New Zealand The new tanker was the first of several upgrades to come in the next few years following the unity, Smith said. It was now the biggest truck in Otago and Southland, with a capacity to hold 14,000 litres of water - compared to the usual trucks that hold about 8000 litres of water, he said. A celebration for the handover of the truck was held at Wallacetown Volunteer Fire Brigade on Saturday. Smith said the station was the second busiest in region, behind Invercargill Fire Station. "It's quite important that this brigade has a tanker that's fit for purpose." Previously fire services were "pretty underfunded" especially in rural areas, with old and ageing equipment, Smith said. But with the merger, a total of $191 million will be spent in New Zealand to address funding gaps in rural fire services and provide more support to volunteers, including equipment and training. Another $112 million of funding will cover the costs of the new organisation, although Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be required to pay that back over 10 years. The Government has also committed up to $10 million a year to cover the cost of non-fire activities, such as medical emergencies, floods and other natural disasters. Smith said the significant increase of capital into fire services was needed. - Stuff

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