The Southern Fire Region covers 7,058,000 hectares. It includes 79 fire stations; more than any other fire region in the country. The region covers Stewart Island, Southland, Otago, Central Otago districts, Queenstown Lakes Districts, and the Waitaki Valley District through to Oamaru. The terrain varies from rolling farmland and plains to mountains, with vegetation ranging from rainforest, to the often tinder dry grasslands of Central Otago.
The Southern Fire Region covers 7,058,000 hectares. It includes 79 fire stations; more than any other fire region in the country. The regions large size means a great geographic diversity, from rolling farmland and plains to mountains, with vegetation ranging from rainforest, to the often tinder dry grasslands of Central Otago. The 290,000 people living in the region are spread over a very large area. Dunedin and Invercargill are home to just over 50 per cent of the population, while the remainder can be found in numerous medium to large towns, as well as a significant number of small rural towns and communities. The Southern Fire Regions structure reflects the large, spread-out nature of the Southern Region. Dunedin and Invercargill fire districts have permanent, paid firefighters. Each paid fire district has its own chief fire officer and 163 paid officers and fire-fighters. There are also 67 volunteer chiefs with 1,450 volunteer fire-fighters.
The Southern Fire Region's approach to volunteer support is proving valuable throughout the region. The Southern Fire Region's head office is located in Dunedin at city fire station with the majority of the region staff operating from there.
With the Fire Region Commander, an Assistant Fire Region Commander and remainder of the region staff based in Dunedin, it leaves a large area of the region located well away from Region Office. It can take up to three and a half hours drive to reach the most remote of the regions fire stations.
The Southern Fire Region management decided to geographically position region staff throughout the region so contact between brigades and region staff is more frequent and on a regular basis.
There is an Assistant Fire Region Commander, Fire Safety Officer and a Volunteer Support Officer based at Invercargill City Station and Volunteer Support Officer's also operate from both the Gore and Oamaru Fire Stations.
We also have an Assistant Fire Region Commander and a Fire Safety Officer based at Queenstown Fire Station and a Volunteer Support Officer based at the Alexandra Fire Station. These staff members cover Central Otago, the Lakes Districts and top end of the Waitaki Valley.
This means the main population areas of Alexandra, Cromwell, Queenstown and Wanaka can also access good day to day support. These region staff members are involved in a wide range of work for the Brigades and can provide operational support during a major incident if required.
A full-time operational planning officer also provides support to the volunteer brigades by helping to ensure their operational plans - such as risk plans, tactical plans, and emergency plans - are up-to-date and effective.