Town to get replacement water tanker

Palmerston is to get a firefighting tanker to replace its old one, which was taken off the road in December after failing its certificate of fitness.

The Otago Rural Fire Authority will rebuild the Kakanui fire tanker, which can carry five firefighters and 6500 litres of water, and base it at Palmerston by the start of the next fire season.

In addition, the Otago authority will have a fire appliance at Macraes Volunteer Rural Fire Force to increase firefighting capabilities in that area.

After the Palmerston tanker was taken off the road, a replacement was promised for the Waihemo area, but which town had not been decided.

That caused consternation in Palmerston, leading to a public meeting in February calling for a tanker to be based there.

Otago fire authority principal fire officer Stephanie Rotarangi said volunteer firefighters were crucial to communities and the authority's responsibility was to ensure equipment was safe and fit-for-use.

''I am pleased to now be in a position to provide Palmerston with the certainty that a tanker will be returned to their community as soon as possible,'' Ms Rotarangi said.

That would not have been possible without support from the Waitaki District Council and the National Rural Fire Authority, who agreed to fund two tanker replacements for the Waitaki region - one for Kakanui which freed up its tanker for Palmerston, and the other for Hampden.

Waikouaiti and Hampden volunteer firefighters were to provide cover for Palmerston while the tanker was rebuilt.

Dr Rotarangi accepted the removal of the previous tanker had caused concern in Palmerston, but said the authority would not compromise on safety.

Palmerston chief fire officer Gary Johnston welcomed getting a tanker again after fears the old one might not be replaced.

The Palmerston Volunteer Brigade would continue to work with the Otago Rural Fire Authority on incidents outside the Palmerston urban area with both the new tanker and the urban fire appliance.

Located in a shelter on the intersection of State Highways 1 and 85, the tanker would boost fire protection for Waihemo communities.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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