18 February 2017
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) set up a field kitchen today to support firefighters, police and other workers involved in the emergency response to the Christchurch fire.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Loftus, who is overseeing the NZDF’s relief operations in Canterbury, said nine Army chefs would prepare three meals a day for at least 250 emergency workers from a field kitchen set up near Halswell Quarry.
“We have been supporting the Government’s emergency response and remain ready to provide additional logistic support if required,” Lieutenant Colonel Loftus said.
Shifts of 15 experienced Defence Force firefighters have been working with the National Rural Fire Authority since the scrub fire broke out on Christchurch’s Port Hills on Monday evening. Shifts of 25 NZDF personnel have also been working alongside police to provide 24/7 support for the community, check on residents in affected areas and evacuate those whose homes are closest to the fire line, and enforce cordons and roadblocks.
Lieutenant Colonel Loftus said NZDF buses and vehicles have been used to support emergency service operations around Christchurch.
“There’s a whole raft of tasks that we are doing in support of the community in Canterbury. Our people are experienced in carrying out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, as we demonstrated recently in Kaikoura and Fiji.”
A Defence Force liaison officer and two planners have been supporting the Emergency Operations Centre in Selwyn District Council since a state of emergency was declared on Wednesday afternoon. Two NZDF liaison officers have also been assigned to support local authorities in Christchurch and to work at the National Crisis Management Centre in Wellington.
Since Monday, the NZDF has mobilised almost 200 personnel, including about 40 firefighters, to help battle bush fires in Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.