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The National Party is calling on the Government to fund potentially lifesaving research into preventing rural fires, National’s Research, Science and Innovation spokesperson Parmjeet Parmar says.

“Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forestry science, is involved in creating a new fire spread model and investigating new extreme fire prevention methods.

This includes developing new response technologies to prevent and suppress extreme fires,” Dr Parmar says.

“I’m calling on the Government to give Scion the security it needs of $3 million a year so it can continue research and come up with new models to suppress wildfires. This research has previously come from contestable funds but there is no security with that funding.

“If Scion’s new fire-spread theory holds true, it will replace an 80-year old fire-spread theory and will transform the way firefighters fight wildfires, the likes of those seen in Nelson and the Port Hills. The frequency and pattern of fires is changing, so this research is more important than ever.

“The annual average direct impact of rural fire on New Zealand’s economy is estimated at $67 million a year, with indirect costs estimated to be at least two to three times this.

“Today is International Firefighters Day, so it’s reasonable that the Government takes today to think about this serious issue which could ultimately save money, and lives.”

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