The Karikari Fire Brigade's station at Whatuwhiwhi has been judged as no longer fit for purpose and is to be replaced.
Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor said the station had been built for a small rural force dealing mainly with scrub fires, and 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 appliance, straight out of the factory in Wellington and due to arrive at Whatuwhiwhi this week, would squeeze into the station, but with only millimetres to spare, creating its own access and safety issues.
Maintenance of the Far North District Council-owned building, which had been paid for by Fire and Emergency NZ, was also becoming onerous.
Plans for a new station, which could be scaled up if the population continued to grow, included a bigger engine bay, an ablution block, locker room and training areas. The cost was not yet known, but a standard two-bay fire station, with outdoor training areas, came in at about $1.2 million.
"The 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 look at what the community needs," Taylor said.
Karikari was a busy, active brigade that was regularly called on help fight rural fires elsewhere around the district. It also did a lot of fire risk reduction and education.
"They're one of our go-to brigades, and I'm thrilled we can show them that we appreciate the support they give their community by providing a new facility. They deserve it," Taylor said, adding that if all went to plan the new station could be built within 12 months.
Fire and Emergency would also consider whether to equip the brigade with breathing apparatus and car rescue equipment. The closest brigade with that equipment was Mangonui.
Fire and Emergency, whose licence to use the council reserve and building on Matai Bay Rd would expire in April next year, was seeking a 33-year lease before investing in a new station.
Councillors this month agreed to begin public consultation on leasing a quarter of the 1ha reserve for a nominal $1 a year, the rest remaining as a recreation reserve. Te Hiku Community Board will hear submissions.
Councillors strongly supported the proposal, describing it as a "no-brainer" given the peninsula's fire history and the brigade's current facilities.
The Karikari Peninsula is subject to year-round fire restrictions.