Kerikeri Fire Brigade to undergo ‘hazchem’ disaster exercise

Firefighters take part in a chemical spill exercise in Kerikeri in 2020. A firefighter stands under a makeshift shower to wash off

Firefighters take part in a chemical spill exercise in Kerikeri in 2020
Photo: Peter de Graaf / RNZ

Northlanders should not be alarmed if they spot what appears to be a disaster unfolding north of Kerikeri this evening.

At least a dozen fire trucks along with ambulances, police and a hazardous materials command unit are expected to converge on the Advance Build site on State Highway 10 in Waipapa from 6pm this evening.

Kerikeri Fire Brigade station officer Andy Hamberger said it would be quite a spectacle with up to 25 casualties made up with fake blood, burns and broken bones.

The simulated fire, explosion and chemical leak aimed to give the Far North’s emergency services a chance to practice working together at a major incident.

Fire crews from Kerikeri, Paihia, Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Ōkaihau would take part, along with St John Ambulance medics and police officers from around the district.

The “hazchem” exercise would double as an awareness raiser and recruitment drive for the district’s emergency services.

Almost all of Northland depended on volunteers to respond to fires, crashes and medical events. Whangārei had the region’s only paid fire brigade.

Hamberger said members of the public were welcome to park across the highway at Gas and Tyre Waipapa to watch, and to approach any of the services afterwards to find out about becoming a volunteer firefighter or St John medic.

The exercise was due to wind up around 7.45pm.

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