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Urban Search and Rescue Media update 1.00 pm

New Zealand Fire Service and Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
Media update
1.00 pm Wednesday 3 March 2011
Fire service activities
USAR
• Grand Chancellor – NZ USAR confirm they have now searched beyond the 10th floor . Search of the remainder of the building is almost complete however parts of the stairwell remain a problem due to rubble. Searching of surrounding buildings is now complete.

• Forsyth Barr building - We are moving to a 24/7 operation. The stairwell has pancaked down to carpark level (first and second stories) . In order to continue the search, a section of the wall will be removed to gain access and remove the collapsed stairwell . The USA team described this as a significant job. There are no stairs available for access below the 10th floor.

• CTV building - NZ/Japan/China teams are still working on what is a very slow and technical operation and requires good daylight visibility.

• Cathedral - The steel support structure is now in place and has been secured to the front cathedral window. The New Zealand USAR team are preparing to make access to the inside area of the collapsed spire. This will then allow the systematic and controlled deconstruction of the debris to ascertain the location and recover of any victims in this area.

• Pyne Gould – The delayering process of the concrete floors of the building continues with the UK and NZ teams estimating that the work will be completed by late Friday or early Saturday.

• Winds – Winds are easing today so may not impact on operations as they did yesterday.

• Operations outside the cordon – Civil Defence response teams, Fire Service general operations staff and Police continue to visit streets and premises to reassure and support people, and if required can and will respond with specialist USAR.


USAR Welfare

• The morale of personnel is good and everyone remains committed to the task at hand. NZ USAR personnel have been rotated through a 24 hour break. Christchurch staff were able to go home.

• The New South Wales team of 20 will rotate personnel out on Saturday and they will be replaced with a combined Australian USAR Taskforce.

• The Japanese team of 67 rotated their personnel on Wednesday.

• Queensland are planning to rotate fresh staff over the next few days.

Reference Notes

• CTV – Japan, NZ and China daylight operations only
• Pyne Gould – UK and recently NZ
• Cathedral – NZ
• Forsythe Barr – USA and NZ
• Grand Chancellor - NZ
• Other teams continue block by block activities.

• There are seven countries represented in USAR. These include 3 NZ taskforces, Japan (1), Singapore(1), UK (1), USA(1 from LA), Australia (2 Queensland and NSW).

Public Information

Key fire safety messages

• We have received reports that people are using candles in an unsafe manner. Never leave lit candles unattended and ensure they are extinguished before you go to bed.
• The planned resumption of power in homes in the Eastern Suburbs may increase fire risks. The Fire Service is developing a Fire Risk Management plan to assist and advise the public regarding the prevention of fire at the time power is reconnected to these suburbs. Key fire safety messages include:
• Ensure all home appliances and power outlets are turned off
• Ensure all electrical chords and appliances are unplugged from the wall socket
• Inspect electrical appliances for any visual damage and if damage is found do not use when electricity is restored.
• The main switch will isolate the entire electrical installation and should be used where extensive damage or exposed wiring is present. However, the main switch should never be relied upon for complete safety – always treat exposed wires with care. Remember turning off at the main switch does not mean that the wires feeding power to the house will be safe.
• Take extra care wherever water is present.
• If circuit breakers trip or fuses blow, this is a warning that something is wrong and qualified advice should be obtained and the circuit left off.
• If you received ‘tingles’ when touching electrical appliances or water taps, turn off the main switch immediately and seek assistance from a qualified person.
• Remember to be watchful of children near electrical equipment.
• Do not attempt to make temporary repairs to damaged or faulty electrical equipment.
Please note that these NZ Fire Service/USAR updates are also displayed on the screen on the outside of the NZ Fire Service Gallery Command Unit (the red Fire Service truck outside the Art Gallery building near here on Montreal St).

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