Ashburton's Rural Fire Authority is set to benefit from more training and investment, after joining the South Canterbury Rural Fire District.
The Rural Fire Authority (RFA) was yesterday (23 July) merged with South Canterbury, in a decision made by the Ashburton District Council's Environmental Services Committee.
The move comes as the National RFA promotes the amalgamation of about 70 small RFAs into fewer Enlarged Rural Fire Districts.
Councillor Alan Totty, Chair of the Council's Environmental Services Committee said that while the merger would cost the Council an additional $45,000 a year, the additional expense was outweighed by the benefits of improved planning, training, plant management and administration.
"The merger also means the Ashburton RFA will have access to a wider pool of qualified rural fire officers and will benefit from the increased investment the National RFA is making in Enlarged Rural Fire Districts." Another advantage is that the Council's Principal Rural Fire Officer will be able to spend more time (50 per cent) working on Civil Defence Emergency Management. The current split is 30/70 with Rural Fire.
"This merger will lead to a more robust and effective rural fire service," Cr Totty said.
The Council first considered a merger in November 2013 but decided against joining the proposed Northern Central Canterbury Enlarged Rural Fire District. It instead chose to further investigate the option of becoming part of the existing South Canterbury Rural Fire District.