The Fire Service has taken a close look at its emergency response to the Christchurch earthquake to help make sure it is even better prepared for future disasters.
Fire Service Chief Executive/National Commander Mike Hall says the February earthquake was New Zealand’s biggest natural disaster and it was the first time the Fire Service had mobilised its national resources to respond to an emergency.
“I’m extremely proud of our response. Our firefighters’ rescue operations were completed with outstanding success. They carried out many amazing rescues in extremely hazardous conditions, at times without regard to their own safety. Many personnel also took calculated risks that were beyond normal expectations and I am sure that if they had not taken these risks, more lives may have been lost.”
The report from the inquiry into the response found that the Fire Service fleet and technology performed well, and support services were quickly put in place. Mike Hall said the disaster clearly showed the need for the New Zealand Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue capability.
“Like any organisation, we are always keen to do better and we are committed to a process of continuous improvement. By carefully reviewing our effort in Christchurch we have found several areas that could be strengthened for the future.”
None of the areas identified for improvement affected the Fire Service response to the needs of the public, said Mr Hall. They were related largely to administration, clarity of roles and leadership, and some procedures that were overlooked in the extreme pressure of the early emergency response.
He said a small team of senior staff has been appointed to make the improvements that have been recommended in the report.
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