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Fire Appliance Failures Hampered Attack On Christchurch Inferno

FENZ’s failure to have reliable and maintained fire appliances was again exposed last night during the inferno at a scrap metal yard in Woolston.

Firefighters arrived to an escalating event with neighbouring properties at risk as fire balls billowed into the sky.

The attempts to contain the fire were hampered with the first appliance in attendance blowing a radiator hose and then overheating requiring it to be moved and replaced by another appliance as firefighters worked under the intense heat. That changeover caused a delay in setting up the aerial with a 17 metre ladder critical to reaching over to get water on the blaze.

But the failures of the fleet did not end there. That aerial appliance’s pump failed requiring the monitor to be fed by another pump. Then the aerial’s hydraulics failed before the appliance’s entire electrical system failed. The aerial is still working stranded in position with the boom unable to be moved. Fortunately the direction of the fire did not move otherwise the appliance could have been caught in the path of fire.

This was no minor issue – two trucks failing on site caused delays and put firefighters working in intense heat and escalating danger.

The fire crews, including those that had already worked extraordinary hours in overtime this week to keep fire trucks on the run, fought hard to contain the fire and successfully protected neighbouring buildings from being engulfed despite the immense challenges of fire appliance break-downs. At one stage there were two mechanics on site working desperately to repair two trucks at the same time while firefighting tactics had to change due to the breakdowns.

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Finally the airport aerial was called in and was of invaluable assistance in the attack but had to return to the airport before flights began this morning.

Once again it was the experience and expertise of firefighters that resulted in the containment of this fire under incredible challenging conditions including failing fleet.

Firefighters put their lives on the line when responding to fires and must have the confidence in the appliances and equipment.

FENZ must be held to account for its epic failure to have a reliable fleet and equipment and its failure to employ sufficient firefighters.

Lives and properties are unnecessarily being put at risk. What will it take for action – does someone have to perish?

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