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Rural fire services essential and highly valued

Rural fire services essential and highly valued: Parker

NATIONAL SCAREMONGERING ON FIRE SERVICES INAPPROPRIATE

Rural fire services are an essential and highly valued part of all rural communities, Otago MP David Parker said today.

Mr Parker was responding to spurious National Party claims last week that there were government plans to reduce the number of fire trucks throughout the country and somehow downgrade the services.

“To the contrary, the Labour Government is highly supportive of the work done by rural fire services. Much of this work was voluntary and these days many callouts were to accidents rather than to fires, Mr Parker said.

“It’s complete rubbish for the National Party to suggest there would be a downgrading of this vital service,” said Mr Parker. “If you had a house fire in Palmerston, it wouldn’t be much use waiting for a fire truck to come all the way from Dunedin.”

Mr Parker said that the Minister Responsible for the Fire Service Commission, Mark Burton, had written directly to Fire Brigades around New Zealand to counter what he describes as “cynical election year misinformation” on the part of some opposition MP's.

He has given unequivocal assurance to Brigades that:

1. There is no plan to reduce fire appliances or services to isolated rural, or any other, communities.

2. This government will not allow any cuts to appliances covering isolated rural communities.

Instead Mr Burton has said his expectation was that over time the New Zealand Fire Service Commission would achieve upgrades of vehicle replacements in order to ensure the maintenance of current levels of coverage and service and preferably to improve them.

“It is entirely understandable that local communities would be concerned when faced with alarmist scaremongering. It is outrageous that any politician - however desperate to raise their profile - should raise and exploit those concerns over something as critically important as fire service coverage,” Mr Parker said.

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