Lack of consistent operational experience across new FENZ Service Delivery Leadership Team

The title says it all really – service delivery leadership team (SDLT) – the word operational seems to be increasingly banished in the organisation.

Today FENZ announced its new SDLT team and disappointingly career firefighters have been overlooked for some key roles. How that will affect the protection of the community and the safety of firefighters only time will tell.

  • Roxanne Hilliard is the new National Manager Risk Reduction and has come from the NZ Transport Agency but does not appear to have any relevant fire or emergency experience.
  • Rebecca Kearns has been named Chief Advisor to Deputy Chief Executive Service Delivery/National Commander Kerry Gregory and has a Government advisory career. Currently Principal Governance Advisor at the Department of Internal Affairs, has been a Senior Governance Advisor for NZ Customs Service and previously to that Private Secretary to a couple of Ministers.
  • Region 5 (Region Te Kei) Manager Mike Grant is not a career firefighter and stepped up from Region Manager Rural.

Of course we are not privy to the details of who applied, but we are concerned that strong career firefighting candidates may have missed out in favour of external candidates with no relevant emergency response or operational experience.

The continuous circular debate about rank and role in the Unified Service Delivery meetings are further evidence of our concerns about the direction FENZ is heading. We have non-career firefighters commenting on operational firefighting roles and what effectively will be terms and conditions of employment. FENZ has taken the extraordinary step of including contractors in high level design discussions appearing to ignore their obvious conflict of interest let alone their lack of standing in any discussions impacting on career firefighters. Also they are not representative of a membership and therefore lack accountability.

Some of the appointments today only cement our concerns about the direction FENZ is heading. We have been asked to give them a chance – we won’t gamble with the health and wellbeing of our members.

The National Committee is currently considering actions it may need to take to ensure only career firefighters manage and instruct career firefighters in response, on the incident ground and on operational matters. The community’s safety and your health and safety is dependent on qualified experienced career firefighters undertaking the primary functions of FENZ – to save lives and property.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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