Raising both the public understanding of the fire risk faced by Marlborough and the region-wide preparedness for the next big one are priorities for Marlborough’s new rural fire chief, Richard McNamara.
On July 1, the Marlborough-Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority comes into effect, part of a nationwide merger of rural fire services. The Marlborough District Council, along with its Kaikoura counterpart, together with the existing rural fire sections, Marlborough North, Marlborough South and Kaikoura, plus the Department of Conservation, will now work together as a single Rural Fire District with responsibility for issuing permits, determining fire seasons and responding to fires.
Mr McNamara is the principal fire officer for this new district. Having seen how the Boxing Day 2000 fires swept out of control across Marlborough’s Wither Hills, perilously close to houses, his approach to fighting fires is direct; hit them hard and keep them small.
His challenge is to make the most efficient use of the skills and resources across the region.
“Marlborough is a fire-prone environment. The climate and the vegetation coupled with the climate mean that, inevitably, we will be fighting fires here so we must be aware and we must be prepared,” he says.
All brigades working under the leadership of the Marlborough-Kaikoura Rural Fire Authority need more volunteers. If you are interested training, contact Richard McNamara, Ph: 03 520 7400.
More information on becoming a rural firefighter www.marlborough.govt.nz under Emergency Management.