One of New Zealand's top fire commanders yesterday conceded regretting not taking control of CTV site when he arrived in the city several hours after the deadly quake.
Wellington-based assistant national commander Trevor Brown got to Christchurch about 10.30pm on February 22, 2011, and took control of the Fire Service the following day.
Yesterday he was called to give evidence at the coroner's inquest looking into the deaths of eight people who survived the initial collapse.
Emergency services have faced gruelling questions over why the eight were not rescued before they died.
The lack of leadership amongst the Fire Service, Urban Search and Rescue and police at the CTV site has been the focus of questions over the past two weeks.
The inquest ends today and will resume again in December.
Mr Brown told the inquest yesterday he had reflected on his own actions on the night of February 22.
Mr Brown said he accompanied two North Island area commanders to Christchurch.
Their task was to visit the CTV and PGC buildings to assess the management resources at the two sites before resting to take over as incident controller.
Mr Brown said both sites were "well managed".
But in hindsight, he regretted not taking over.
"I considered that if I had taken lead as the commander at CTV, I would have been able to deflect a lot of the criticism that my firefighters feel is directed at them after all the work they had done," he said.
"Rightly or wrongly that's how they feel."
An independent report released last month slammed Fire Service chiefs for being disorganised, out of the loop, and failing to support their firefighters in the initial response to the devastating earthquake.
The review by the West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service chief executive and Chief Fire Officer found executive officers could have been "better organised, integrated and supportive of operational crews and incident commanders."
Mr Brown said there were 42 opportunities for improvement that were identified in the West Yorkshire review.
"We know there are a lot of things we would like to have done better but I do believe we did everything we possibly could to save as many lives. We now have a response manual and we have learned a lot of the lessons (that came out of the quake).
"We as firefighters are probably our biggest critics quite often," Mr Brown said.
Earlier yesterday, evidence was heard from USAR task force 2 leader Paul Burns, a senior Christchurch fire station officer.
He said fire crews worked too hard, causing welfare issues.
Mr Burns said he found it difficult to convince local crews to take a break.
"On one side is criticism for pushing the boys too hard and then on the other side the boys are saying to me, get stuffed this is our city," Mr Burns said in reference to him trying to get staff to take breaks.
Mr Burns said he had received a complaint that USAR staff were working too hard.
USAR teams from Auckland and Palmerston North were also saying, "we've come down here to work, not sit on our arse," Mr Burns said.
Mr Burns said that rescuers were limited by the gear available, which had since been addressed.
He also believed a full-time National USAR commander should be appointed because there are four in Queensland, Australia.
Mr Burns said that USAR crews and training in New Zealand were world-class but they were let down by the administrative framework.