Businesses want paid fire brigade in QT
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.