Auckland Convention Centre fire exposes fatigue, inadequate staffing and appliances

A NZPFU survey of Auckland Local Members who responded to the 6th Alarm Convention Centre fire has highlighted significant staffing, resourcing and appliance issues hindered the response.

The Auckland Local conducted the survey and the 134 respondents demonstrates there was poor management of firefighter rotation, aerial operators were required to work exhaustive hours without relief while available aerial operators from other areas were not utilised, procedures to minimise exposures to the harmful smoke and water were not enforced and equipment issues including faulty Breathing Apparatus communications.

FENZ has commenced debriefings and the NZPFU has representation on the Operational Review.

The NZPFU has requested confirmation from FENZ that all the issues raised by Auckland Firefighters will be investigated and addressed either in the Operational Review or other forum. It is important that key issues are addressed to prevent a repeat in the future. The NZPFU will be working with FENZ to ensure lessons are not only learned but implemented.

The NZPFU has provided a copy of the survey outcomes and a report on key findings and comments from the survey respondents to FENZ.

  • Crews were in attendance at the incident for a total of 4-65 hours with an average attendance of 25 hours.
  • Crews estimate they were exposed to smoke from 0-90 percent of that time with an average of 35 percent exposure.
  • Aerial Operators were worked to the point of exhaustion – some working 24 hours shifts with minimal breaks - despite available aerial operators from other regions being available for deployment
  • 77% of Firefighters have stated they have not received adequate training for firefighting operations on a roof including the use of tools for ventilation such as chainsaws
  • 81% of Firefighters said their fatigue was not adequately monitored and managed
  • 87% of Firefighters were not aware of gas detection being undertaken to determine the suitability of APR’s
  • Ablution facilities were not made available and staff had to leave the fireground to use public toilets
  • Inadequate water and food provided with some Firefighters leaving the fireground to buy drinks
  • Around 77% of Firefighters in Auckland have not been trained or made aware of aerial capabilities and tactical uses
  • 52% of Firefighters at ICC had issues with their equipment with dozens reporting faulty breathing apparatus mask communications
  • A clean recovery was not provided. 69% said they were not provided sufficient meals/breaks
  • Staff rotations and appliance movements were poorly managed and for some Firefighters not managed at all
  • Lack of exposure mitigation practices, inability to shower and change uniform and lack of a clean recovery area

The survey participants also listed what went well including the work of the Firefighters, the use of a thermal imaging drone, command structures and staging after day 1.

The survey has been a valuable tool for Members to be able to communicate the issues and highlights of the response. It provides a credible perspective from the Firefighters that FENZ can now use to ensure all issues are investigated and addressed.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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