Dysfunctional work relationships and management failures marred the Fire Service response in the aftermath of the February 22 earthquake, according to an independent review.
The management disaster response to the 6.3 magnitude Canterbury quake has on the whole been praised in circumstances that would have "stretched any fire service in the world".
But the review from Simon Pilling, West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Chief Executive and Chief Fire Officer, found the Fire Service could have been better organised and management could have been more supportive.
"It is clear, that everyone did their best, with the resources they had, in the face of a catastrophic event," NZ Fire Service National Commander Paul Baxter said.
The report found that the executive officers who were already in Christchurch, and those deployed to Christchurch within the first 12-24 hours, acted professionally "but could have been better organised, integrated and supportive of the operational crews and incident commanders".
It added the major fire and rescue sites were "ably commanded by experienced and confident senior operational staff despite the extraordinarily hazardous and challenging environment."
Baxter said he accepts the review's conclusions that the event brought to the surface some tensions between Christchurch managers and staff. "I am addressing these issues and have made significant progress in recent months," he said.
The review has been welcomed by the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union which says it addresses concerns raised by its members after the earthquake.
"The union is extremely proud of its members, their professionalism, dedication to duty and bravery during this seminal event in our city's history," president of the union's southern branch Denis Fitzmaurice said.
Fitzmaurice said it would be "extremely distressing" for fire-fighters involved to feel like they are being "second guessed" from what happened on the day of the quake.
The union has been invited by the Fire Service to form a new team which will work at implementing the review's recommendations.
The Fire Service has already implemented nearly 42 changes recommended in an earlier review.