13 Jul 2019

Port Hills' blaze review: Fire service improvements a year away

8:34 pm on 13 July 2019

The fire service expects to spend another year on the changes recommended after the Port Hills blaze in 2017.

Firefighters try to save a house from fire on Port Hills in Christchurch. The fires destroyed nine houses and one helicopter pilot died fighting the blaze.

Firefighters try to save a house from fire on Port Hills in Christchurch. The fires destroyed nine houses and one helicopter pilot died fighting the blaze. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

The Port Hills fires began on 13 February, 2017, and burnt through 1600 hectares of land, destroyed nine homes and damaged five more.

A scathing review into how the authorities responded was released the same year and made 12 recommendations, including reviewing current fire plans and developing a public warning system.

The review criticised a lack of co-operation between different agencies and slow or inefficient communication.

After two-and-a-half years, Fire and Emergency said it still had a year worth of work ahead to address all of the review's recommendations.

Fire and Emergency deputy chief executive for service delivery, Kerry Gregory, said the organisation had developed a 48-part "action plan".

"As at June 2019, 36 of these actions have been completed.

"The remaining 12 actions relate to a single incident management system, the design of local advisory committees, local fire plans and the development of case studies to use as learning's from the Port Hills fire."

He said all the remaining actions would be completed within the next year.

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