A ''go-to brigade'' in one of Northland's highest fire-risk areas will get a brand-new fire station to replace its ageing two-bay shed.
Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said Karikari Fire Brigade's current station, on Matai Bay Rd in Whatuwhiwhi, was no longer fit for purpose.
It had been built for a small rural fire force dealing mainly with scrub fires, so it wasn't suitable for training volunteers or for the changing risk profile of an increasingly urbanised Karikari Peninsula.
A new Isuzu four-wheel-drive rural fire truck, straight out of the factory in Wellington, was due to arrive at Whatuwhiwhi around May 18 but would fit in the current station with only millimetres to spare.
That would create its own access and safety issues, Taylor said.
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Maintenance of the council-owned building, which was paid for by Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ), was also becoming onerous.
Taylor said plans had been drawn up for a new station which could be scaled up if the population continued to grow.
It would include a bigger engine bay, ablution block, locker room and training areas.
The cost was not yet known but a standard two-bay fire station plus outdoor training areas was about $1.2m.
''The current station has served us well but it's getting to the end of its life. Rather than doing a massive upgrade we have an opportunity to really look at what the community needs.''
Karikari was a busy, active brigade which was regularly called on help fight rural fires elsewhere around the district. They also did a lot of fire risk reduction and education, he said.
''They're one of our go-to brigades. I'm thrilled we can show them that we appreciate the support they give their community by providing a new facility. They deserve it.''
If all went to plan the new station could be built within 12 months, Taylor said.
FENZ would also consider whether to equip the Karikari brigade with breathing apparatus and car rescue equipment in future. Currently the nearest brigade with that gear is at Mangonui.
FENZ has a licence to use the Far North District Council reserve and building on Matai Bay Rd which is due to expire next April.
It has asked the council for a 33-year lease on part of the reserve before it invests in a new fire station.
At their May 7 meeting councillors agreed to start public consultation on leasing just under 0.25ha of the 1ha reserve to FENZ for a nominal $1 a year. The rest of the land would remain as a recreation reserve. Te Hiku Community Board will hear the submissions.
The proposal was strongly supported by councillors, some of whom described it as a no-brainer given the peninsula's fire history and the brigade's current facilities.
The fire-prone Karikari Peninsula is subject to year-round fire restrictions.
Northland's worst fire of the 2019-20 season occurred on the peninsula when a car crashed into a power pole, sparking a blaze that swept through 130ha of conservation land and forced the evacuation of half a dozen houses on Ramp Rd.
In 2011 a deliberately lit fire on Karikari Peninsula destroyed a number of dwellings and claimed the lives of a helicopter pilot and a Department of Conservation ranger.