Royal New Zealand Engineers are making their way around the Red Zone – checking the security of buildings damaged by the 22 February earthquake.
The purpose of Operation Hold Fast is to ensure the security of businesses. Business owners who return to find their building boarded up are asked to collect keys from Civil Defence for safe entry into their premises.
Led by Lieutenant Mike Clulow, members of 3 Field Troop from Burnham including carpenters, plumbers, electricians and field engineers – all highly experienced in working in tough environments such as Afghanistan and East Timor, are now ensuring the security of more than 400 buildings in the city’s Red Zone.
“This is the first time the New Zealand Army has been involved in a project of this kind in New Zealand,” he says.
“We have over 30 personnel including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, plant operators and field engineers working to secure potentially more than 400 buildings in the central city.”
“We have found each building comes with it’s own unique challenges. Some are partially collapsed and we’re working in conditions that include heavy dust and debris, rotting food contamination, and there is always the risk of the buildings themselves.”
“Each building requires a unique approach in securing the premises and we have improvised where necessary. Our team has utilized multiple methods and a variety of materials including more than 100 metres of razor wire, 300 sheets of plywood, two kilometres of timber and more than 200 padlocks and latches.” Lt Clulow said.
“In some instances we have built false walls where total frontages had disappeared or erected high razor wire to protect upper levels.”
“Operation Hold Fast has allowed us to secure many buildings from the elements and ensure the safety of both buildings and contents in support for the New Zealand public.”
Operation Hold Fast will be working throughout the central city and the red zone this week up to Friday 15 April.
Business owners with approved access to their premises and who find their premises boarded up are asked to collect keys from Civil Defence’s E.O.C at the Art Gallery. All keys are to held at the cordon management office and will be available to business owners with appropriate identification.