An independent assessment, commissioned by the Fire Services Commission Board, puts the current operational cost of providing rural fire services at $35 million a year. This is the first time a comprehensive national picture of rural fire costs has been compiled.
One of the key findings of the Fire Service review is that our fire service needs proper funding – particularly in rural areas. Having a robust assessment of this cost is essential to inform future planning under the new single fire service, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (starting 1 July 2017).
The $35 million figure includes 2015/16 costs from Rural Fire Authorities, Enlarged Rural Fire Districts, Territorial Authorities and major forestry companies.
The Department of Conservation, NZ Defence Force and Scion (a New Zealand Crown Research Institute that specialises in forestry-related research and development) were excluded as their rural firefighting costs will not be transferred to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Data was provided by 81% of Rural Fire Authorities, Enlarged Rural Fire Districts and Territorial Authorities (representing around 90% of total costs); and 79% of forestry companies providing rural fire services (representing around 70% of total costs).