Fire ban ‘breakdown’
A ‘‘total communication breakdown’’ may have left many South Cantabrians unaware a total fire ban had been put in place for several hours, prompting criticism from mayors.
Fire permits were withdrawn for the entire Canterbury region by the National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA) yesterday as many firefighting resources were sent to Christchurch. However, despite the ban being in place since before 6am, some councils were not informed for several hours.
That has been described as ‘‘worrying’’ by Labour spokeswoman Clare Curran, who said she would be seeking answers about the handling of communication by the NRFA.
A post on the total fire ban was put on the Christchurch Civil Defence Emergency Management Facebook page at 6.20am. Timaru District Council was first officially informed of the ban, via an email from National Rural Fire Officer Kevin O’Connor, at 12.29pm.
Mayor Damon Odey said the information should have gone out on multiple channels, including council websites and social media accounts.
‘‘Everybody should be using every mechanism possible. Information is key, people need it.’’
NRFA rural fire manager Tim Mitchell said it was the responsibility of individual rural fire officers to inform their local councils of a ban being put in place.