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Firefighters welcome drop in callouts

THE number of serious property fires and vehicle crashes in Tairawhiti have dropped considerably since lockdown Level 4 started and the region’s firefighters have welcomed it.

It was a similar story during the first Level 4 lockdown last year.

Since this current event started last Tuesday night there have only been a dozen responses, for various reasons, for the crews from the Gisborne station.

“Half of the calls have been for what we call miscellaneous fires, things like burn-off, shelter belt and rubbish fires that cause nuisance to neighbours,” said Senior Station Officer Ed Hindmarsh from the Gisborne FENZ station.

The other half involved a car fire, one motor vehicle crash, and city fire crews have responded twice to help St John ambulance at medical callouts.

“That’s the same sort of situation we saw last year, with our call numbers down around 40 percent so far, and we hope it stays that way,” SSO Hindmarsh said.

“We feel it’s because people are mostly at home, and therefore there’s fewer emergency situations occurring,

“Because they are at home more they’re being more vigilant, and more careful.

“We congratulate and encourage everyone to keep up their fire-safe behaviours, and that is certainly evident in the Gisborne community at this time,” he said.

SSO Hindmarsh reminds people to continue to use the “checkitsalright” website when it comes to fires in the open.

“We would ask people to avoid lighting fires in the open until we get out of Level 4 lockdown.

“We cannot stop people lighting fires to burn rubbish and so on, because we’re in an open fire season, but it would reduce the health risks for our staff and our volunteers who have to leave their bubbles to attend to fire calls.”

Principal Rural Fire Officer Ray Dever said the rural situation around Gisborne and up the East Coast had been good too, with fewer calls.

“We had a couple of small vegetation fires that had to be dealt with, but overall people around the rural areas of the district have been really well behaved, and more careful when it comes to fire and other emergency situations.”

St John on the other hand have not seen a drop in their workload.

‘It’s been pretty much business as usual for us,” said St John territory manager Shane Clapperton.

“Though, there have been fewer emergency calls to things like road crashes than normal.”