Busi­nesses want paid fire brigade in QT

Central Otago Mirror - - CROMWELL BUSINESS HUB - DASHA KUPRIENKO

The Cham­ber of Com­merce is push­ing the idea of get­ting a paid fire brigade in Queen­stown.

Cham­ber chief ex­ec­u­tive Ann Lock­hart told the Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil an­nual plan sub­mis­sion hear­ing last week that she was putting to­gether a case for the idea.

‘‘It was brought to our at­ten­tion and we will sup­port it,’’ she said later.

Fire vol­un­teers gave a lot of their time to keep the com­mu­nity safe, Lock­hart said.

‘‘It’s more press­ing be­cause of safety with a large num­ber of peo­ple in town.

‘‘There’s also an in­crease in dis­rup­tion to busi­nesses as staff [who are vol­un­teers] can get called out five times a day,’’ she said at the hear­ing.

North and Cen­tral Otago fire area com­man­der Keith McIn­tosh said there was ‘‘noth­ing on the books’’ for a paid brigade at the mo­ment.

‘‘The brigade is cop­ing and is ef­fi­cient. It’s on the back of our mind,’’ McIn­tosh said.

The Queen­stown Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade was the eighth busiest in New Zealand, he said.

Fire brigades in the area were ’’con­stantly’’ eval­u­ated and there was no need for a paid fire brigade now, but that could be re­con­sid­ered de­pend­ing on de­mand in the fu­ture.

Queen­stown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said the case had been put through in the past but was re­jected.

‘‘The CEO and I have met with the fire ser­vice and put a case for­ward. They’ve en­sured us that it was a pretty out­stand­ing team of vol­un­teers that we have in the district but the case doesn’t ex­ist for [a paid crew].’’

Sta­tis­tics re­leased un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act show the Queen­stown Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade was called to 371 jobs last year, with 230 of those be­ing false alarms.

Sev­eral ho­tels and backpackers were planned to be de­vel­oped in the re­sort in the next few years and would cre­ate higher de­mand for a paid brigade, Boult said.

‘‘The time will come pretty soon that there will be a case for a per­ma­nent brigade and it’s not to take away the vol­un­teers,’’ Boult said.

‘‘The district con­tin­ues to grow and, like ser­vice providers in town, they need to review what they are do­ing from time to time,’’ he added.

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