Fire Fire Fire – We Are At Risk

Written by on August 28, 2023

By John Freer

Interviewing Rob Goldring is a very sobering experience. The discussion is about the recent wildfires in North America and how a similar scenario could be experienced on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Rob is the Community Risk Manager for Fire and Emergency New Zealand in the Waikato. It is very easy to determine his role, that being to ensure every step has been covered to ensure people remain safe if a significant fire was to occur. There is a team of people assisting with this across the region.

There is good reason – they see the Coromandel Peninsula as a significant fire risk. Being a risk of this level, the situation is further compounded by the fact, and these are Rob’s words, “when there are extreme fire conditions”, he said “firemen will never be able to save the day because they simply won’t be able to get there in time”.

Subsequently, he said residents must put in place escape and survival measures. Early in the interview, Rob directs us to the Check Its Alright website – and he refers to it on more than one occasion.

He also talks about how fire embers resemble the flight of leaves which reveals why fires travel aligned with either airborne debris or that lying around a property.

Our reason for having a chat with Rob, was because of the devastation witnessed in Hawaii and potential parallels with Coromandel Peninsula.

“Certainly, the risk is there in the Coromandel Peninsula,” said Rob pointing to areas on the eastern peninsula.

There is a fire plan in place for the region and this starts with the weather monitoring process. This enables early intervention by imposing restrictions or fire bans. Due to the type of scrub fuel, the fire risk can be extreme every other day. This poses heightened challenges if a fire starts in the wrong place.

For the fire fighters, the priority is to evacuate people at risk before putting the fire out, said Rob. This is where he encourages residents, or those in the fire threatened areas, to have their own plan and take the initiative of evacuating early and not relying on official warnings to leave.

“We want to put the emphasis of people having good situational awareness and knowing their neighbours.”

He stressed having a getaway plan, this to include pets.

Hear our full interview with Rob including conflict points when trying to fight fires and clear people, the people who will attend the fires and being prepared. Open the link below.

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