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The Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade has completed its much-anticipated storage building to house equipment used in emergency call-outs. The group was able to complete the initiative thanks to $20,000 from the Meridian Waitaki Community Fund.
Mat Bayliss of the Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade, says the new building will greatly enhance its ability to respond quickly to emergencies.
“Before we erected the building, some of our gear was scattered in temporary locations all around Omarama. We respond to a wide variety of emergencies including vegetation, property and business fires, as well as traffic accidents and chemical spills. These emergencies could be anywhere across the vast geographic area we cover, so it is crucial we have easy access to our equipment,” he says.
The Omarama Volunteer Fire Brigade was established in the 1970s following the destruction of the community hall by fire. These days, the Brigade consists of volunteers from Omarama and the surrounding districts, and services an area in excess of 50km.
The Brigade is also required to assist Police, St Johns, the Department of Conservation and Land Search and Rescue on some call-outs.
Mat Bayliss says the threat of vandalism or damage to the equipment is also a real concern for the Brigade.
“There has always been a risk that our ability to respond to an emergency could be significantly undermined by undetected theft, damage or vandalism of vital equipment. By now having most of our equipment in one secure place, we have overcome this problem,” he says.
The low maintenance 12m by 6m building is large enough to cater for growth in Brigade numbers. Paving, landscaping and fencing are planned to ensure the building blends in with the existing environment.
Mark France, Chair of the Meridian Waitaki Community Fund, says the initiative will benefit the whole Omarama community.
“It is great to see this project come to fruition,” he says. “Volunteer fire brigades provide a vital service to communities so it is important that they have the resources necessary to ensure they can respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies.
The Meridian Waitaki Community Fund is to the value of $1 million over three years and is managed by a panel of community members and Meridian staff, who work together to help decide which local initiatives are supported.
Successful applicants for the next round of funding will be advised in late November 2009.