An independent investigation into the deaths of two firefighters and the injury of two others in Muriwai, Auckland, during Cyclone Gabrielle has been launched by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Dr Dave Van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens were the two firefighters who died while responding to a landslide as the storm tore through the city in the early hours of Monday, February 13.
Chief Executive Kerry Gregor said the magnitude of the incident justified an independent investigation.
“We are committed to looking for opportunities for continuous improvement and are looking to minimise the risk of such catastrophic harm being repeated in the future,” he said.
Paul McGill, who is the lead investigator, and Andy Evans, who is a specialist ICAM (Incident Cause Analysis Method) health and safety investigator, will head the investigation.
Throughout the course of his nearly 40 years with the New Zealand Fire Service and Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Paul McGill held a number of senior positions, including a front-line firefighter, deputy national commander, national commander urban, and acting chief executive.
Meanwhile, Andy Evans is a skilled and experienced independent health and safety Investigator who has conducted many ICAM investigations into a wide range of incidents, including in farming, power distribution, logistics, education, construction, and transport.
Gregory said Fire and Emergency is a close whānau and this has been an awful reminder of the risks our firefighters can be exposed to every day.
“We will continue to work closely with those impacted,” he said.
Stevens was able to be rescued and was taken to hospital in a critical but stable condition following the slip. His colleague Van Zwanenberg’s body was recovered two days later.
Stevens would succumb to his injuries in hospital on Thursday, February 16. He would have celebrated his 40th birthday in just over two weeks.
Both were farewelled last month at beautiful, separate, services at Parihoa Farm, in Muriwai.
In addition to the investigation, there is a separate operational review of the entirety of Fire and Emergency’s response to Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods.
This is separate from the contribution to the Auckland Mayor’s enquiry into the Auckland Anniversary weekend floods.