Rob Hands, new District Manager for South Central Canterbury Fire and Emergencies

Mid-South Canterbury Rural Fire Chief Officer Rob Hands is the new District Director for Fire and Emergency NZ Mid-South Canterbury.

Valentina Bellomo / Stuff

Mid-South Canterbury Rural Fire Chief Officer Rob Hands is the new District Director for Fire and Emergency NZ Mid-South Canterbury.

Mid-South Canterbury Rural Fire Chief Officer Rob Hands is the new District Director for Mid-South Canterbury Fire and Emergencies.

His appointment comes as part of a national fire and emergency restructuring in New Zealand, where the historic division of 24 urban areas and 18 rural fire districts across the country has been replaced by 17 new districts.

A statement from Fire and Emergency says Hands has been involved in fighting fires in both built and natural environments for several decades.

“He knows the Aoraki communities well and has strong ties to his previous role as senior rural fire officer and as a volunteer firefighter,” the statement said.

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“Rob wants to prioritize the organizational goals of Fire and Emergency and be there for the urban and rural communities of Aoraki.”

Prior to the structure, Fire and Emergency maintained a leadership structure similar to that of the organizations that came before it.

Sector chiefs led brigades and posts focused on urban areas, and senior rural firefighters led brigades focused on rural areas.

Rob Hands, left, and Stephen Greenyer, former manager of New Zealand's Mid-South Canterbury area, at a farewell tea for Greenyer who retired last month after 46 years in the service of fire.

Valentina Bellomo / Stuff

Rob Hands, left, and Stephen Greenyer, former manager of New Zealand’s Mid-South Canterbury area, at a farewell tea for Greenyer who retired last month after 46 years in the service of fire.

Under the new structure, all brigades and stations will sit together under the leadership of their respective newly appointed district directors.

Fire and Emergency chief executive Rhys Jones said Fire and Emergency NZ was established in 2017 and brought together over 40 rural and urban fire departments and 14,000 people “has been a tremendous job” .

“But it was necessary to make all the different firefighting setups work together as a national organization,” Jones said.

“Our structural changes aim to create a unified national emergency management organization to address the changing risks communities face in built and natural environments. “

Fire and Emergency NZ chief executive Rhys Jones said bringing rural and urban fire departments together was a

WOOD / MATERIAL ROSA

Fire and Emergency NZ chief executive Rhys Jones said bringing the rural and urban fire departments together was “huge work.” (File photo)

National Commander Kerry Gregory said fire and emergency work went far beyond putting out fires and the new crews would reflect his broader mandate.

“For years, the proportion of fire responses has been declining compared to other incidents – and it will continue to be the case.

“A changing climate means that we will have to respond to more frequent and severe natural disasters in the future. We are also seeing more traffic accidents, medical interventions and incidents involving hazardous materials.

“Our new structure allows us to continue responding to these emergencies and working with communities to ensure their safety.

Daniel E. Murphy