18 Nov 2009

Union faults initial firefighter turnout to major blaze

6:10 pm on 18 November 2009

The Professional Firefighters Union has criticised the fire service after only eight firefighters initially responded to a major blaze in the Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington.

It took more than 80 firefighters and about 18 fire engines from across the region to control Tuesday's blaze, which gutted a two-storey Fisher Cr building occupied by Corporate Consumables.

The union's Auckland president, Jeff McCulloch, says it's no wonder firefighters had little chance of saving the building, given the initial turnout, and he wonders how long it will be before another serious loss of property occurs.

The union claims there were delays in sending an aerial ladder, while crews remained at the station listening to the events unfold.

Mr McCulloch says the cost of sending out fire appliances is only minimal.

But the fire service is defending its response to the blaze. Regional commander Brian Butt, who attended the fire himself, says the response was in line with best practice.

The severely damaged building will be destroyed after an investigation is completed.