20 September 2023

Arson a concern for NPA fire brigade that is short on volunteers

| Matt Nicholls
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NPA Rural Fire Service volunteer Talei Elu sent in this photo of a recent fire in the region.

EDDIE Newman says he’s tired of the phone ringing.

It’s been a busy month for the first officer of the NPA Rural Fire Brigade as spot fires keep popping up in the region.

He says all of them were preventable fires.

“They are all deliberately lit,” the former NPA mayor said.

“Kids are to blame mostly. Police are doing patrols when there are fires around but you have to catch them in the act.”

Mr Newman said a recent fire could have been catastrophic for the Seisia community.

“The smoke was bad enough. We had to get some Elders and community members to relocate so they wouldn’t get sick from smoke inhalation,” he said.

“The fire itself came pretty close to houses.

“We got on top of it with some back burning but it could have been a bad situation.”

This map shows the most recent fires in the NPA.

Mr Newman urged parents to monitor their children over the school holidays and to talk with them about the danger of fires.

“Everything is so dry at the moment and the wind has been blowing,” he said.

“It makes it hard because we keep getting spot fires.”

With a new shed on its way, most likely next year, the first officer said he hoped it would attract more volunteers.

“We definitely need more people,” Mr Newman said.

“We’re all volunteers and at this time of year I’m always on call. It would be great to have more people to call on.

“There are times when we have quite a few people, but a lot of them are school teachers or go away on the holidays.

“That leaves us pretty stretched for people.”

A fire broke out in the Northern Peninsula Area last week. Officials believe that kids were the likely culprits.

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