Water access concerns for rural fire brigades

CHANGE: The Central Plains Water scheme is a large irrigation project underway in Selwyn. Rural fire brigades are concerned how they will be factored into the scheme as more water races close.

Rural fire brigades are at odds with Fire and Emergency New Zealand over how they will source their water in the future.

Sheffield, Hororata and Springfield brigades are calling for more communication over what alternative water supplies will be available in the future and how they will be factored into the Central Plains Water Scheme.

It comes after more water races are set to close in Malvern, with the district council approving the closure of 10.9km of water races in March.

Central Plains is expected to be fully established in the next 12 months.

But FENZ has guaranteed alternative water supplies will be made for available.

Principal rural fire officer Darrin Wood, of FENZ said he can ensure provisions will be made in Central Plains to put in hydrants.

Mr Woods said Central Plains have made their water races available for helicopter dipping operations and fire brigades have belly tanks available.

His views were backed by Canterbury area commander Dave Berry who said he has happy with communications from Central Plains and has previously met with the brigades over the issue.

But Springfield chief fire officer Grant Williams said there needs to be more reassurance as the brigades have not heard when the hydrants will be established.

Sheffield senior firefighter Graeme Piper said there has been difficulty in getting Central Plains representatives and the district council together to discuss the supplies.

“We would like more information from them. It is pretty important for us,” he said.

Hororata senior station officer Roger Parsons said it was asked to write plans on where it wanted the hydrants located in Central Plains but have heard nothing since.

He said he has told FENZ “heaps of times” they haven’t got any water in the township with their two hydrants 5km away.

But Kirwee chief fire officer Stuart Jones said the scheme is still being completed and it is up to FENZ to decide where the hydrants go, not the brigades.

A Central Plains spokeswoman told Selwyn Times it is not engaging directly with the regional fire brigades and FENZ will communicate with them once requirements are finalised.

She said it is important to keep in mind Central Plains is a private scheme and helping the brigades it is something they are offering to assist with.