Friday 28 March 2014
The Ashburton District Council Rural Fire Authority has been given the thumbs up from the National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA).
The NRFA conducts audits of all territorial rural fire authorities every 3 to 5 years and Ashburton District Council scored 8.7, placing our rural fire authority as satisfactory.
Emergency Management Officer Don Geddes says "The vote of confidence shows that the Ashburton District Council is meeting its legal responsibilities and is committed to protecting our community from the threat of fire."
The high level reviews are focussed on how the local authorities run their businesses as rural fire authorities.
Also feeding into the overall assessment are training, equipment testing and maintenance and general record keeping as well as compliance with the NRFA standards relating to identification of fire hazards and achieving timely response to fires.
Mr Geddes says Ashburton District Council received top marks in some areas of assessment but there was always room for improvement.
"One area we have really focused on in the past year is training for our volunteer rural firefighters," said Mr Geddes.
"Since May last year we have held 17 fire training courses, received 261 registrations and issued 554 New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) unit standards," Mr Geddes said.
Mr Geddes says the Council has a training programme for rural firefighters planned out until July this year and will soon be drafting up a programme for the next financial year.
"We need to give our volunteers the skills and knowledge to be safe on the fire ground and also to provide them with efficient and reliable equipment that enable them to get the job done." said Mr Geddes.
Failure of rural fire authorities to meet compliance with NRFA audits could render them ineligible for access to financial support through the NRFA grant assistance scheme and the rural firefighting fund, as well as having other serious statutory implications.