Battling bushfires proves costly

Monday October 08, 2018 Written by Published in Crime
It costs $700 to send one fi re unit to a blaze and can take up to 14,000 litres of water to put out one bushfi re. 18100814 It costs $700 to send one fi re unit to a blaze and can take up to 14,000 litres of water to put out one bushfi re. 18100814

Attending multiple bushfires – often caused by negligence - is proving quite costly for the Rescue Fire Services.

Chief Fire Officer Willy Hagai said it costs about $700 per fire truck to attend to a bushfire incident.

About 10 bushfires were reported this month alone, which is believed to be the highest ever recorded in Rarotonga.

“If there is a rough figure we have to give in terms of cost, we reckon its somewhere around $700 per truck attending one fire incident,” Hagai said.

“And this doesn’t include the callback staff and also the volunteers who give up their time to attend to some of these fire cases.

“There are other things that can be added to the costs, so it’s not cheap to attend to fire incidents including the bushfires we have recently witnessed.”

On Friday last week, the Rescue Fire Services along with the volunteer fire services from Puaikura and Teimurimotia attended to four bushfires.

Hagai said they were also using up a considerable amount of water to put off these bushfires.

“We use up to about 3000 litres of water per truck when we attend to the bushfire incidents and with Teimurimotia truck coming in to assist, we are probably looking at 13,000 to 14,000 litres for just one fire. That’s a lot of water, especially at a time when we are facing a water-shortage problem.”

Hagai said people need to be wise when lighting a fire. He said they also need to take heed of the wind when making decisions about burning rubbish.

“If it’s windy, don’t light a fire. We acknowledge those who are looking after their fire and keeping them under control,” Hagai said.

“People need to be smart about fires. They have to be mindful of their surroundings and consider their neighbours or properties around their house when lighting a fire.

“We request people to think twice before burning their rubbish. The recent bushfire cases we have attended to has become a concern and we want to keep this under control.”

Meanwhile the Cook Islands Police Service has also raised concern at lack of responsibility in managing or supervising rubbish burning, over recent days.

“The present windy conditions are not safe for rubbish burning, particularly if not supervised and controlled adequately,” police said in a statement.

“Precautions should be taken in terms of the scale of the burn and proximity to other property. Community sensitivity to fires should not be taken lightly.”

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