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Specialist firefighting team

Extreme summer heat and tinder dry conditions meant a specialist team of Citycare Property firefighters was in action recently at two fires on the Port Hills near Christchurch.  

Consequently, a restricted fire season was imposed in Canterbury and a fireworks ban was established for the Port Hills.

Team leader Steve Frame says members of the 60-strong Citycare Property fire crew earlier in the month helped fight a blaze at Barnett Park near Sumner and another at Avoca Valley.

“It’s a dry summer in many parts of the country and it’s important to be smart about what you are doing around dry fuels – for example avoid hot works such as welding, grinding or gas cutting or mowing which could create a spark,” Steve says.

The Citycare Property firefighters are trained and ready to support Fire and Emergency New Zealand firefighters at rural fires when necessary.

This specialist rural firefighting team has existed at Citycare for the past two decades and helped at many fires in Canterbury over this time.

The firefighters’ day jobs range from gardeners to project managers, but this expert crew is on call 24/7 to respond to vegetation fires, Steve says.

They have training days every year to keep everyone up to date with their theory and practical skills, he says.

Steve is an open spaces maintenance manager for Citycare Property, overseeing a team mowing, spraying and gardening in the open spaces around Christchurch City.

Earlier this year there were two callouts for the firefighting crew in North Canterbury – one at Marble Point near Hanmer Springs and another at the Hurunui River mouth.

Often the team relieves other firefighters if a blaze lasts a long time.

When needed, the team assembles at Citycare Property in Wairakei Road with its equipment and water tankers.

Some of the rural fire crew also serve as volunteers for Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the communities where they live.

The team at the Barnett Park fire included Andre Harpugin, Andrew Potts, Bart Simpson, Roy Kuka, Logan de Roo, Violet Maaka, Immanuel Peter, David Goy, James McDuff, Geoff Sergeant, Chris Guy and Chris Webb.

Here are some tips from Fire and Emergency NZ to help reduce the risk of any open fire you light this summer getting out of control.  

It only takes a spark to cause a devastating wildfire, so it’s important to check the fire weather in your area before lighting a fire.

Even in a restricted or open fire season, and even if you have a fire permit, you should still check the fire weather in your area.

The fire weather website gives information about the chances of a fire starting, spreading and causing damage.

It provides up-to-date information about how safe it would be to light an open fire, operate farm or forestry machinery, or carry out hot works such as welding, grinding or gas cutting.

Fire danger is measured by how hot and windy it is, how dry the area is, and the ignition source (what kind of work you’re doing).

If you want to light an open fire, check the fire season and find out if you need a fire permit

Port Hills fire 1 low res

Port Hills fire 2 low res