Case Study 1: Amalgamation of Rural Fire Services in Southland

Local Authorities Working Together.

Who Is Involved?

Southland District Council, Invercargill City Council, Gore District Council, the Department of Conservation Southland Conservancy, and Southern Plantations (a consortium of forest owners).

What Led To The Joint Arrangement?

Rural Fire Authorities are responsible for all aspects of fire management outside urban fire districts, including fire suppression. Southland was divided into five rural fire districts, administered by the five organisations as independent rural fire authorities.

The three local authorities had been considering amalgamating their fire districts for some time. After an analysis of the options, the local authorities sought the endorsement of the Southland Shared Services Forum, and were subsequently joined by the Department of Conservation and Southern Plantations. A facilitator was used to help the parties to reach agreement.

A single Southland Rural Fire Committee was established in July 2003 to administer a new amalgamated Southland Rural Fire District.

In the short term, expected benefits included saving time on issuing permits, reducing administrative costs for each organisation, and clarifying permit processes for the public. One participant estimated it would save up to one person-day a week for most of the year as a result of better management of the fire permit system through the new amalgamated committee.

How Does It Work?

The Southland Rural Fire Committee governs the amalgamated Southland Rural Fire District, providing high-level strategic guidance and ultimate approval authority. Each member organisation makes a contribution to the costs of the amalgamated rural fire authority. Two participants make contributions in kind (with an ascribed dollar value) in lieu of cash as part of an interim arrangement.

Funding of day-to-day management will continue to be met by the participants that have responsibilities for rural fire management in their zones, using their own resources, the New Zealand Fire Service, or contractors. The costs of fire suppression are met by the member organisation in whose zone the fire originated. Fire fighting equipment, such as water tankers and fire trucks, is still owned by the member organisations. However, the new committee has assumed responsibility for maintenance.

next case study

page top