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The serious potential danger represented by gorse-covered land in and around the city was pointed out by the superintendent of the Wellington Fire Brigade (Mr. C. A. Woolley) m. a report submitted to the Fire Board today.

Mr. Woolley said that ,in an endeavour to alleviate the almost continual responses to gorse'fire alarms the brigade's inspection department had carried out a further drive in the city during the dry season. The combined efforts of the City Council and the brigade inspectors were responsible for no less than 250 sections being cleared during the quarter ended February 1, 1934. During that period 138 gorse fires were attended, and: to deal with them 169 appliances and 773 men were necessary, utilising 683 man hours.

As many as 31 men, using five appliances, had been engaged at one time in dealing with a gorse fire on January 3, Mr. Woolley reported. Other outbreaks required 28 men and five appliances, 26 men and six appliances, 19 men and five appliances, 14 men. and three appliances, and 10 men and four appliances. On one. occasion the meu were Engaged for four arid a half hours. The total number of appliances, including the motor-truck, was eleven throughout the brigade, and. it would be seen that on one occasion six, or 54.5 per cent., were in attendance at gorse fires; -on. four occasions five,.or 45.4 per cent.; on another occasion four, or 36 per cent.; and on a further occasion three, or 27 per: cent. ;... '' V ' 'EXTRAORDINARY FIGUBES.'' "From the extraordinary figures quoted it will be appreciated that a menace of no mean order exists," said Mr. Woolley. "During the time under review the average number of officers and men of the1 permanent staff available daily between the. hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. was 32. It will be appreciated that but. for the availability of auxiliary firemen during the day (available owing to being .out of employment), an extremely serious position would have, obtained on the dates-out-lined in the summary, and as the services of auxiliary firemen: are voluntary during the day it will also,be.appreciated that with the. advent of better times will be absorbed into other employment, and in consequence their1 services will not be:available to the brigade during the day.: ::i.leave the members of the board to conjecture what would eventuate if a large city fire occurred during these critical hours. . / -.' . .'■ ■'■ .-"- : , "XnTACCOtTNTABLE ITEES." "Following the inspections previously referred to it is customary for the City Council to issue notices to 'clear and remove' the overgrowth of gorse. It has been the experience of the brigade officers that following such notices the sections become unaccountably involved in fire. It has been difficult-to obtain direct evidence of malicious firing, but there appears to to-be ampi c justifiea^ tion for the officers? assumptions. In spite of representations to the Eailway Department, a number 'of fires occurred on railway property, and on■ occasions they spread to other closely adjacent property in the Kaiwarra, Wadcstowh; Ngaio, and Kbandallah districts. : '"'■". There appears to me .to "be ' only one way to combat the prevalence of gorse fires, and that is to charge ers of sections for brigade attendance at gorse fires where a notice'to ■ cut and remove has been issued.:by the City Council, or alternatively, to impose a substantial fine. • > . Mr. Woolley said that an amendment to the city bylaws would be necessary to this end, and he requested the board to take the matter up strongly with the City Council. ; \ ENORMOUS EXPENSE. Mr. W. H. Bennett said that gorse fires were an enormous;expense, to the board, and the owners concerned should be compelled to clear their land. Some action should, also be taken to abate the nuisance on railway property. v Mr. S. S. Dean said that useful work for unemployed could be found in clearing gorse from sections...- :: ; . •;;.■? Mr; P. M. Luekie said that' the .City Council would have to pass a bylaw giving it the right, immediately an owner failed to clear his la/id, to enter upon it and clear it at his expense. It left a bad taste in the mouth 'that fires should occur on property in respect of which notices to clear gorse had been issued by the council. '■ . It was decided to seek the co-opera-tion'of the City Council in the matter.

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Bibliographic details

MENACE TO THE CITY, Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 17, 20 July 1934

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MENACE TO THE CITY Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 17, 20 July 1934

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