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Up to $385,000 could be paid to the Otago Rural Fire Authority by the Waitaki District Council over the next three years for depots and to replace firefighting vehicles and equipment in the district.
That is in addition to the $321,478 a year the council is contributing to the authority, the biggest contribution towards the budget, which also includes the Queenstown Lakes District, Dunedin City, Clutha District and Central Otago District Councils and the Department of Conservation.
This week, the council approved transferring up to $95,000 from its rural fire depreciation account to the authority for extending the fire depot at Macraes and for a new depot in Oamaru for the Waitaki Rural Fire Party.
It also approved the transfer of up to $290,000 from its rural fire depreciation reserve over the next three years to fund equipment and vehicle replacement, conditional upon the equipment remaining in the district.
Vehicles targeted for replacement are a tanker and appliance at Hampden, tanker at Otematata, smokechaser for the Oamaru-based Waitaki unit and a tanker for Omarama.
Council financial officer Paul Hope said the replacements were to ensure the firefighting capability in the district was maintained and vehicles met safety standards.
The depreciation funds being used were set up for the replacement of rural fire vehicles and equipment.
If the new Otago Rural Fire Authority had not been set up last year, the council would have spent these funds itself.
However, once the new authority was proposed, the council put any major spending on hold. This was partly because the new authority was expected to rationalise and improve vehicles and equipment.
The replacement programme proposed would significantly reduce the age and increase the capabilities of key items of equipment, including vehicles.
The extension of the depot at Macraes was to provide space for personnel, critical for training, health and safety.
The Waitaki depot was, at present, at the Whitestone Contracting depot at Deborah, which was costing the authority $25,000 a year in rent.
Space had been offered for no rental at the Oamaru Fire Station, where Waitaki deputy principal rural fire officer Kerry O'Neill was based.
Waitaki Rural Fire facts
459,704ha covered in rural zone
1001 incidents last five years
150 incidents from July 2014 to March 2015
Six volunteer rural fire forces
Seven volunteer fire brigades
11 fire tankers
8 fire appliances
4 light vehicles