A firefighter who will feature on Mitre10 Dream Home has spoken of how health and safety concerns hampered the CTV rescue effort.
Manu Clarkson was giving evidence at the coroner's inquest yesterday into the deaths of eight people who could not be saved from the wreckage of the building, backing up earlier witnesses concerns about health and safety priorities.
Mr Clarkson is one of five Christchurch finalist families who will take part in the top rating TV show next year.
He told the inquest yesterday he was inside a narrow void in the collapsed building when aftershocks struck and he was yelled at to get out.
He had arrived at the site within two or three hours of the February 22 earthquake.
Mr Clarkson explained how firefighters and Urban Search and Rescue members used crow bars and concrete cutters.
Two cameras were also used to check holes and gaps.
It became apparent that the fire was taking hold quickly, and he believed the only chance for survivors was to use the diggers more.
"I was wearing a respirator. I couldn't do without it. Smoke was going to kill potential survivors.
Smoke was pouring out of gaps," he said.
Rescuers were extremely frustrated when a USAR member ordered the diggers to stop frequently because of health and safety issues.
"I felt hindered by people who were over-cautious about health and safety.
Mr Clarkson was crawling around on the east side of the rubble exploring voids for about three hours.
More rescuers were on the western side because of easier access and more survivors there.
He said he came across a deceased female whose lower torso had been badly burned. He helped pull out two students and someone who had a leg amputated.
``I saw a leg amputated in front of me with a saw.''
Mr Clarkson said the ranking differences between the Fire Service and USAR made it difficult to know who was in charge.
He recommended that an executive officer should be present because of their leadership skills.
In cross examination Mr Clarkson outlined how a digger would lift up slabs of concrete and allow him to inspect the exposed area before replacing the beams gently down again. He did not see any beams fall down from a digger.
At one stage Mr Clarkson recalled thinking about his family, and how he could become another casualty.
Meanwhile, city centre station officer Saskia Rose told the inquest Fire Service staff have not been debriefed since the February 22, earthquake.
She there was a lack of leader ship, direction and preparation for the disaster, which still had not been addressed.
The Fire Service were not trained to deal with an earthquake because it wasn't seen as a ``risk'' before September 2010, Ms Rose said.
``We needed and still need better training. I do not feel that we are any better prepared now than what we were before the
earthquake. The (CTV) site was beyond our gear,'' she said.
``Even if we had heavy gear like concrete cutters I would've felt undertrained using it. More extraction gear and resources were needed. We were under-utilised due to the lack of leadership,'' she said.
Ms Rose said no one was in charge of the CTV site, where she arrived at 5pm, just over four hours after the 6.3 quake.
``No one seemed to know who was in charge of the overall site. It should've been the Fire Service.
There was not sufficient command control. We were missing people at the top. An area commander should've been in charge.''