SkyCity blaze: Firefighter fatigue and inadequate resources exposed

SkyCity firefighters tackling the massive blaze have revealed the conditions they were subject to as it raged on.

The findings of a survey released by the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) revealed there were significant staffing, resourcing and appliance issues which affected the response.

NZME reported that some firefighters had to urinate on the road, and another two fell asleep while up ladders but those details were not confirmed in the survey.

"There was poor management of firefighter rotation, aerial operators were required to work exhaustive hours without relief while available aerial operators from other areas were not utilised," the NZPFU says.

Procedures to minimise exposure to smoke and water were not enforced, the union says.

It's estimated crews were exposed to that smoke up to 90 percent of the time, with an average of 35 percent exposure.

More than 130 firefighters responded to the survey.

The NZPFU says some aerial operators worked 24-hour shifts with few breaks.

On the ground, 77 percent of firefighters said they hadn't received adequate training, 81 percent said their fatigue was not managed, and inadequate food and water forced some firefighters to leave the scene to buy refreshments.

The damage inside the convention centre following the blaze.
The damage inside the convention centre following the blaze. Photo credit: FENZ

The NZPFU says there was also "lack of mitigation practices, inability to shower and change uniform and lack of a clean recovery area".

FENZ says it's investigating reports that firefighters were fatigued. Region manager Ron Devlin told NZME extinguishing the blaze entailed a large number of resources.

"At any incident, we regularly review resourcing needs."


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