Far North Mayor Wayne Brown has established a mayoral relief fund to help the families of fire fighters who died fighting a blaze at Karikari Peninsula last week.
Salt Air pilot John ‘Prickles’ de Ridder and DOC ranger William Macrae died when their helicopter crashed during a fire reconnaissance flight at the peninsula on December 1.
Mayor Wayne Brown announced today, after attending Mr Macrae’s funeral, that the council would run a three-month fundraising campaign to raise money for the men's families.
“It is a gesture of respect to two men who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their communities.”
Mr Brown said the council would start the mayoral fund with a $1000 donation.
"This is the first mayoral relief fund the council has established since 2007 when Northland district councils and the community raised nearly $310,000 for 39 families whose homes were damaged by floods."
He promised to make a personal donation to the fund and he urged the public to do the same before 6 March 2012.
“We can’t bring Prickles or William back, but we can try to make life a little easier for their families.”
The council will decide during the next few days exactly how the funds will be distributed.
"It is our intention to support the victims' immediate families.”
Mr Brown is also keen to see rural volunteer fire fighters benefit from the fund.
“The more money we raise, the more we can show our appreciation to these people who give up countless hours of their lives to protect people and property from fires.”
The National Rural Fire Authority’s Auckland region fire manager Rob Goldring said it is unfair that Mr de Ridder and Mr Macrae lost their lives in such tragic circumstances.
“They were professional rescuers serving the community. They put their lives on the line trying to save others in an emergency situation."
He urged people to give as generously as they could to the fund.
“Support from the people of New Zealand will help their families through these very difficult emotional and financial times.”
People can donate to the fund at any branch of the ASB Bank which has opened a Far North District Council Mayoral Relief Fund account.
Virtual cheques can be paid into the same ASB account 12-3244-0031536-00 online.
Cash, EFTPOS and cheque donations can also be made at all Far North District Council service centres.