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2019 Tasman Fire – event report published

A comprehensive report into the February 2019 fires in the Nelson Tasman region has concluded there was a quick and effective multi-agency response to the fires.

Conducted on behalf of Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) this review sits alongside those done by other partner agencies including the recent Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) review.

The report, authored by specialist infrastructure advisors 41 South, consolidated the findings from five separate workshops. It concluded that there was a quick and effective multi-agency response to the fires. The commitment and enthusiasm of the teams that responded from around New Zealand was evident from the review, as was the huge amount of community input which supported every aspect of the operation.

During the three-week emergency declaration and massive multi-agency operation, there was no loss of life or serious injuries. This outcome was in no small part thanks to the professionalism and dedication of partner agencies including FENZ, Police, the Tasman District and Nelson City Councils, amongst others.

Key findings from the report fit into seven categories: team effort, planning and preparedness, resources, people wanting to help, affected parties preparedness, animal welfare and recovery.

Steps have been taken by the Civil Defence Emergency Management Group to begin addressing the recommendations, which include:

  • Maintaining more regular contact with the community and stakeholders at the start of high-risk seasons such as summer fire and winter flood to reinforce preparedness and provide support/advice.
  • Improving the process for evacuation and safety of animals (livestock and pets), which was inconsistent and caused concern for affected parties.
  • Developing a better resource management plan, which considers support services such as accommodation, transport, and facilities for non-locals supporting the event.

Civil Defence Group Controller Roger Ball said that taking the time to capture and consider the key findings from emergency events is a vital part of helping ensure our region is prepared and able to respond appropriately for the next one.

“Making sure we capture what went well during an event, as well as areas where we can improve is vital.

A lot went well during the February fires and the support we had from the community, Iwi partners, and many volunteers was a major contributor to that.

There were also things upon which we can improve, and we are working through those.

As we go into the start of a new fire season we need to be ready with our partner agencies to respond again if required. We are working hard to strengthen relationships with our community, which is a vital part of our region’s resilience to emergency situations.” he says.

Read the full 41 South Tasman Fires review.

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