Paid fire crew moving to new building

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Newly appointed Aoraki Mid South Canterbury district manager Rob Hands at Ashburton Fire Station.

Staff from Fire and Emergency New Zealand are set to move into a stand alone building in downtown Ashburton.

It will end a four year hiatus which saw them housed, on a temporary basis, at the Ashburton Fire Station, after the initial amalgamation of rural and urban fire service.

Volunteers at the Ashburton Fire Station will remain at the Burnett Street station.

Newly appointed Aoraki Mid South Canterbury district manager Rob Hands said the move into the former Burtons Electrical building on Havelock Street in Ashburton was planned for early next year.

Among the nine staff to move into the office premises were group managers Mike Johns (formerly of Selwyn) and Paul Manson (formerly of Wellington HQ), community risk manager Don Geddes, volunteer support officers Murray Cairns and John Ferguson, and adviser risk reduction Gavin Lack.

Two other group managers and staff would be based in Timaru.

The district Aoraki Mid South Canterbury district spanned from the Rakaia to Waitaki rivers and inland to Mt Cook.

The move will essentially create an informal emergency management precinct with the Ashburton Police station, and once completed, the Civil Defence Emergency Management bunker (located within the Ashburton District Council’s new civic centre), all within close range of each other.

The move has been three and a half years in the planning, Mr Hands said.

It was designed to improve services to he community, support volunteers within the organisation and increase community engagement with risk education.

It was intelligence led and would lead to stronger community engagement and help with the training – and retaining – of volunteer workforces.

It was also part of a plan to build a unified national emergency management organisation to meet the changing risks communities faced in both the built and natural environments.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand recently announced the creation of 17 new districts to replace the existing 24 urban areas and 18 rural fire districts across the country.

Under the new structure, all brigades and stations sit together under their respective district managers.

There were 35 brigades in the Aoraki district, with 700 volunteers and 37 career staff, Mr Hands said.