Introduction

“Don’t be alarmed by sightings of ‘purple rain’ over Canterbury today,” Bruce Janes DOC Canterbury rural fire officer is warning Cantabrians.

“Don’t be alarmed by sightings of ‘purple rain’ over Canterbury tomorrow,” Bruce Janes Department of Conservation (DOC) Canterbury rural fire officer is warning Cantabrians.

The region’s rural fire agencies are learning about the use of chemical fire retardant on wildfire in a two-day training course held in Rangiora over the 22 and 23 of November.

Taking advantage of the present wet and green conditions,  the Canterbury West Coast Regional Rural Fire Committee is facilitating the event to ensure the region is prepared for the summer.

“Chemical fire retardant is another tool available to rural fire agencies to contain wildfires,” says Janes.

“It is especially effective on fast-moving fires where valuable assets may be at risk and where other suppression resources struggle to keep up. It can also be effective on remote inaccessible fires where there could be a delayed response due to distance and access.”

The Canterbury region has two fire retardant response depots one based at Geraldine and the other in Christchurch.

Australia’s Victorian Department of Sustainability and the Environment has kindly supplied one of their technical fire specialists to deliver and oversee the training, assisted by the regions own people.

“There are eight specialists that will be trained so they can operate the delivery systems and assess chemical fire break effectiveness.  Rural fire and incident managers will be trained in the more strategic aspects of the approach.”

Day two will be field-based using the delivery systems and applying the retardant from a fixed wing aircraft.

“The public can expect to see a light aircraft dropping purple liquid loads over a controlled forested and grassed site,” says Janes.

Thirty-nine fire personnel from around Canterbury and some from the North Island are attending the two days. 

Pilots from near and far will attend an evening workshop to cover tips on applying the retardant from the air.

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