Firefighters gear up for red zone arsons

9:31 am on 6 January 2013

Firefighters in Christchurch say they are confident everything possible has been done to prepare for potential fires in the city's red zone over the hot summer months.

Concerns were raised last year over the fire hazard created by overgrown gardens and lawns at abandoned earthquake damaged properties.

The service's central Christchurch area manager, Greg Crawford, says it is working closely with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority to ensure that red-zoned properties are not overgrown with plants and grasses.

Mr Crawford says the Fire Service has also adapted some of its fire-fighting equipment so that water to fight fires can be sourced from rivers.

He says the equipment is now lighter so it won't sink to the bottom of the river and suck up silt instead of clean water.

In March last year, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said $770,000 of taxpayer money would help fund using unemployed people to work in Christchurch's red zone, tidying up houses and acting as security.

More than 6000 properties in Christchurch and Waimakariri had to be abandoned because of quake damage and Mr Brownlee said there had been vandalism, theft and arson.

Last summer, fire safety inspectors in Christchurch said two major blazes in central-city buildings - the partially demolished McKenzie and Willis building and a dis-used warehouse on Moorhouse Avenue - were set by arsonists.