Hope you have had a good summer, albeit a bit more wet, humid and warmer than expected. The various douses of rain have helped dampen vegetation and keep the fire risk in the local area down. However, please be aware, the restricted fire season will remain in place until the end of April.
It has been great to see the various events held up at the Blue Lake over the January-February period, which also saw the Lake Okareka Fire Force called upon to provide medical assistance to those who experienced too much sun, fun and other substances.
Over recent weeks, several members of the Lake Okareka and West Rotoiti Fire Forces were deployed to assist with fire containment efforts and drone work at vegetation fires in Invercargill, Dunedin and the Chatham Islands. The deployments to the Chathams were a unique experience for all concerned, going to a place that is as remote as you can get, surrounded by ocean, while still being part of New Zealand.
These deployments provide a great opportunity to rotate our Fire Force members so they can extend their already broad experience and raise our profile nationally. This year’s deployments have also allowed us to further strengthen our partnership with Interpine Innovation, an industry leader in the use of drones, through not only mapping the fire grounds and predicting fire behaviour, but also carrying out thermal imaging to identify and locate hotspots after the initial fire has passed through, which greatly speeds up the fire response and mop-up process.
I would like to acknowledge my members who constantly make themselves available to assist on these deployments, and also those who stay behind to ensure we have adequate coverage for our day-to-day callouts.
The build of our replacement fire station is still a work in progress. Fire Emergency New Zealand is currently working through due process with the Rotorua Lakes Council.
We have also had a number of new members join up in recent months, spanning a range of ages. It’s great to have new blood in the Fire Force.
If you have been thinking about joining and would like to see what we are about, please come down to the fire station at 7:30pm on a Wednesday night when we do training or phone me on 3628874. You can also go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com.
Finally, with Daylight Saving changing back later this month, don’t forget to check your smoke detectors and get your chimneys swept before the winter.
Chief Fire Officer