Air Force extinguishes fire threat in Chuuk

The people of the remote Weno Island in the Pacific were delighted when a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules landed there late last week with a large Fire Truck on board.

The fire truck donated by the NZ Fire Service coming off the aircraft at Chuuk Airport.

The fire truck donated by the NZ Fire Service coming off the aircraft at Chuuk Airport.

There has been a series of serious fires at Chuuk, including at the State Legislative Chambers and a large tuna canning factory, and the situation was getting desperate without a fire truck on the island.

The pilot, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Matthew Ferris says that when it comes to airlift, the Air Force are the best people for the job.

"There are limited ways to get such a large fire engine to the Island. The C-130 Hercules is one of the only aircraft that could do it because it has a cargo space big enough to take the fire truck, and is agile enough to land on a small airfields in remote areas."

The 7.7 tonne truck was donated to Weno Island, Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), by the City of Christchurch Firefighters and the NZ Fire Service.

The Governor of Chuuk State asked New Zealand Firefighter Mr Keith Norton for help in sourcing a fire appliance, as they had been without a fire appliance for nearly two years.

"It’s been quite a journey, from sourcing a suitable fire truck to physically getting it to the Island. The Hercules was probably the only way of transporting such a large appliance to such a remote area," said Mr Keith Norton, City of Christchurch Firefighters.

"We were very happy to help. It’s a special experience to work with the NZ Fire Service and help our neighbours like this," said FLTLT Ferris.

The keys to the fire truck were handed over at formal ceremony shortly after it was unloaded from the aircraft.

"It has been my privilege to present the keys to this appliance for its use in all aspects of fire protection and safety on the Island of Weno," said Mr. Norton.

"It’s been fantastic to see the smiles on their faces. It makes it all worthwhile," said Mr Norton.

The donated serviced fire truck came about thanks to the efforts of the NZ Fire Service, City of Christchurch Firefighters, St Vincent de Paul, and the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

For further information contact the Defence Communications Group: 021 487 980.

This page was last reviewed on 29 May 2013.