Categories: Featured News

Fire and Emergency NZ reviews operations in wake of Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle

Share this content


Overview of the operational review by Fire and Emergency NZ

Fire and Emergency New Zealand has released a comprehensive operational review of their responses to the severe weather events that hit Auckland last year during the Auckland Anniversary Weekend and Cyclone Gabrielle in January and February.

This review identifies both the strengths and areas for improvement in the organisation’s handling of these incidents, which National Commander Russell Wood highlighted as critical learning opportunities.

Wood said: “I am proud of how all our people responded and supported communities, especially given many were personally impacted in some way.

“We have heard so many stories of how our people acted with the highest levels of skill, ingenuity and empathy, in the most trying circumstances.”

Enhancements in severe weather response capabilities

The review underscored the evolving role of Fire and Emergency in severe weather responses, a function not traditionally within their primary legislative remit.

It brought to light the necessity for better planning, administration, and support for personnel during such intensive events.

The organisation plans to utilise the “Key Insights” from the review to bolster their operational and planning procedures and to enhance their training and equipment to better prepare for future events.

Wood added: “Severe weather response is a new and evolving capability for Fire and Emergency and is not one of our legislated main functions.

“We acknowledge we have a way to go to ensure we are prepared, trained and equipped.”

Tragic outcomes and ongoing community support

The review also touched on the tragic impacts of these events, including the loss of lives, which had a profound effect on the community and the personnel of Fire and Emergency NZ.

Despite these challenges, the review noted the exceptional efforts made by the staff to provide necessary services amid catastrophic conditions.

“At the peak of the Auckland floods on Friday 27 January between 4pm and 9pm, we received 650 calls via the 111 service over a thirty-minute period.

“We had to prioritise attending incidents where lives were threatened, or elderly or unwell people required rescue,” explained Wood.

Progress and future plans

Significant progress has been made since the events, with several initiatives already completed and others in progress.

These include the establishment of six specialist water rescue teams, the acquisition of advanced personal protective equipment for Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, and the development of comprehensive training and e-learning packages focusing on severe weather responses.

Wood concludes: “We are committed to making the improvements identified in this operational review so we can continue being there for New Zealanders.”

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox