Launch of new rural fire authority

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A new rural fire service which will change the way in which operations are administered in the Waitaki district, is being launched in Clyde on Friday.

Mayor Gary Kircher and Michael Ross, chief executive officer of the Waitaki District Council, will be attending the launch.

The launch relates to the amalgamation of Otago’s six rural fire authorities into one enlarged fire authority which will officially commence on July 1.

The Waitaki District Council currently administers the rural fire service in this district but as of next week this role will be taken over by the Otago Rural Fire Authority based in Dunedin.

Clear benefits from amalgamation were identified, including the sheer scale of the one body which will improve the delivery of fire services across Otago.

Mr Kircher said it will be a straight hand over in terms of local equipment and resources and no money will be exchanged.

He said council will still collect rates in the first year and give them to the new entity.

Chris Raine, Waitaki District Council emergency services manager, said there will still be a rural fire officer based in Oamaru and that it is business as usual for the district’s rural fire fighting forces.

“The public need to be assured that fire permits are still been issued under the conditions of a restricted fire season.”

He said it was simply a transfer of administration from the WDC to Dunedin and that there would be better rationalisation in the way fire permits were issued.

The boundaries between the current authorities will be removed which will be less confusing for both landowners and the general public.

By LINDA MCCARTHY