The Dunedin City Council is now backing a proposed Otago-wide
rural fire district after an assurance the city would retain
its own rural firefighting resources.
The proposal involved amalgamating the rural fire districts
of Otago's five councils, plus the Department of
Conservation, into a single organisation, the Otago Enlarged
Rural Fire District (OERFD), starting in July 2014.
The city council had hesitated in becoming involved after
councillors expressed concern about a lack of detail and
Consultation meetings were held in the past fortnight.
There was unanimous support for the larger rural fire
district concept, provided resources remained within their
communities, council corporate services group manager Sandy
Graham told a meeting of the full council yesterday.
Under the proposal there were no plans to change the rural
fire response in those areas, she said.
A letter from Central Otago District Council chief executive
Phil Melhopt, who was driving the proposal, presented to the
council, said it was ''certainly not the intention'' of the
proposed enlarged district to interfere with existing fire
''It is entirely possible, and indeed appropriate, for a
future agreement between the DCC and OERFD entity to identify
existing arrangements and protect them so they endure.''
Mayor Dave Cull said there was some confusion about the New
Zealand Fire Service domestic volunteer service and the
separate rural fire service. This proposal only dealt with
the rural fire service.
Rural fire officer Graham Still said equipment would be used
where it was most needed and returned to its home station.
The council endorsed the proposal and resolved to enter a
stakeholder agreement and identify and protect existing
It approved transition funding of $15,000 and committed
funding for three years to the new entity.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council will discuss its
involvement at a meeting in Wanaka today.