Fire ban ‘break­down’

The Press - - Port Hill Fires - DAISY HUD­SON

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.

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