A ''ladder truck'' for the Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade
would not necessarily save lives and would be neither
cost-effective nor efficient for Queenstown, the New Zealand
Fire Service says.
Region manager, assistant national commander David Guard, of
Dunedin, said yesterday the Queenstown aerial appliance,
which was retired to a museum after 30 years, was used only
three times between 1998 and 2012.
''It has been suggested, following the World Bar and Fat
Badgers fire, that `lives will be lost' if a replacement
aerial appliance was not secured,'' Mr Guard said.
''It is true that aerial appliances have occasionally been
used to rescue people from burning buildings.
''However, more often than not, aerial appliances are used,
especially in New Zealand, for pouring bulk water on to fires
where a building is mostly consumed by fire and is not safe
for internal fire attack by firefighting crews.''
Mr Guard responded to a request for comment by the Otago
Daily Times following a community meeting on Monday.
Residents will write to service chiefs asking why the
Queenstown brigade's aerial appliance was not replaced, what
the criteria are for allocating one to a brigade and what the
cost implications of acquiring and maintaining the appliance
Mr Guard said aerial appliances were rarely used in an
emergency so the service was careful about their purchase and
''Ground monitors are just as effective as an aerial
appliance in most incidents where water needs to be pumped to
a height and are more flexible and easier to use.
''The Queenstown brigade has three of these monitors. The
modern aerial appliances are large vehicles and have
difficulty negotiating narrow roads and tight corners and are
unable to operate on slopes.''
Mr Guard said most people died within the first few minutes
of a fire starting. Deploying an aerial appliance would not
normally improve their chances of survival because it took
time to get them there and set them up.
''There are, however, numerous examples of people being
rescued thanks to the quick action of firefighters conducting
internal search and rescue.
''The best life-saving measures for high-occupancy buildings,
such as bars, nightclubs and hotels, are compliant
fire-resistant construction and fire protection measures
along with a current and practised evacuation scheme.
''Sprinklers offer the most effective protection to life and
property. It is these measures that the Queenstown community,
building and business owners must focus on for the effective
safety of the town's residents and visitors ... the local
community and travelling public are as safe from fire in
Queenstown as any other city or town in New Zealand.''