Proposed consultation document

Members will have started to have local consultation meetings with their leaders, below we have written up points of interest and or concern to the Union and our members. Under each section, we have given our guidance and our thoughts on what it means and where we think the future state should be.

It is important to understand that these are the Unions views, ideas and thoughts at this stage – so your sign off does not necessarily indicate that they are your thoughts. These have been distilled after a lot of discussion with many members. There is still a lot of work to be done, discussions to be had, consultation to be conducted and agreements to be made.

If individual members choose to make a submission, please send a copy to the office so that we can include it in a joint National submission. We are more than happy to receive feedback and update this commentary/advice in the future.

  • Operating Principles
    Clearly, we think that using and reinforcing that the Act requires us to use an evidence based approach to everything we do. This is not mentioned here and should be.

    Another operating principle should be responding faster, with the best trained firefighters and officers possible to all emergencies. This statement is missing from the principles.

  • Service Delivery
    There are some key changes in terminology in the proposed model, one being service delivery, feel free to comment on this and recommend what you feel the term should be. Our inclination is that Operations and non operations clearly defines everyone’s role and function. We agree that Risk reduction should part of operations.

  • Strategic Leadership
    It is critical to have senior operational urban leaders within the SLT. Urban firefighters attend up to 80% of all emergencies and extinguish approximately 90% of all vegetation fires.

8 key areas of change

  • Strategy Led
    Investment should be informed by the key data collection, local planning, workforce planning, so in order to be strategy led we need to develop systems and processes to capture all vital information and data that should inform all investment into the future. If we just make up a strategy, without any evidence, then investment will miss the mark and be a waste of money. All this planning work needs to be done first, it will inform investment and therefore will inform Levy discussions and increases.

  • Community Focus
    More dedicated resources to us means more people. More FRMO’s engaging with communities, more firefighters doing the same. Supporting the smaller to medium sized communities with career staff to release the burden on Volunteers. The key to truly supporting communities is to do the work on local planning, interpreting the information and data received and then translating this to resources required. Career FRMO’s and firefighters being able to help plan, interpret and provide advice on resourcing.

  • Risk Reduction
    To significantly increase our risk reduction capability, we need massive investment in staff and training and a qualification framework for FRMO’s and operational firefighters to work towards. We should be talking about how much risk reduction work career operational firefighters do on a daily basis, there should still be capacity to carry on some of this work and in fact it integral to the rounded development of operational crews, being able to recognise deficiencies in and around buildings and systems so that we can continue to keep people and ourselves safe.

    We must be talking about using evidence to measure a communities risk and therefore the resources to address that risk. If the risk is education, built environment then we need to address that logically and properly so that we can demonstrate value to the community and the Government. If it’s operationally then the same approach should be applied.

    We need to push for investment into data, information and intelligence gathering and interpretation of all that work.

    See more below on this topic below

  • Transparency of investment
    We see that FENZ while needing to demonstrate value for the levy dollar for the work we all do, they should also show the cost to communities by not having Career firefighters/FRMO’s and VSO’s. Clearly FENZ should be able to demonstrate the tangible benefit of having Career staff and therefore should be able to demonstrate the opposite. We should be able to measure the risks to communities, provide detailed assessments on resourcing options including Career staff and detailing the added value to the community. By measuring the added value we will be able to inform the setting of the Levy rate to enable us to do the job that we are required and mandated to do within our communities.

  • Empowered decision making
    It is imperative that decision making is not left to those emotional decisions that have plagued us in the past. Decisions around communities risks, resourcing requirements should not be left solely to the people within those communities and at the cost of the benefits to the community. There needs to be an evidence based approach, National oversight and a logical approach taken to making major decisions.

  • Learning Organisation
    We need to ensure that we continue to be engaged in the building of the new organisation and new ways of doing things. It is vital that the NZPFU is continued to be valued for its expert advice, experience and knowledge, drawing on our overseas contacts and partners. We need to push for better IT systems so that we are able to learn what we are good at and not so good at and where we can add even more value and better outcomes for communities. It is key for us to become better and provide a better service than we currently do. Whilst we see the need to develop adaptive cultures, we need to maintain our watching brief to ensure that the key points about being an emergency service are not lost or dumbed down.

  • Insight from intelligence
    This is all about evidence. We need massive investment in systems that will provide all these valuable insights to make our job easier, provide answers around risk and resourcing. We need to train our firefighters/FRMO’s and VSO’s on how to best use the information, data and how to easily contribute to the data collection in ways that are better than now, i.e. the RD2 process. The information captured and recorded by crews is wholly unable to be used in any meaningful way. Real and positive changes in these systems are a key foundation for the future. We also need to ensure investment is in our own people to use the tools as well as developing those systems.

  • Inclusive and Dynamic people system
    The first thing FENZ need to do to demonstrate its inclusiveness is pay parity. Career firefighters and the NZPFU have pay parity amongst female and male firefighters, the same ca not be said for regional, area and National staff. It is important that FENZ continue to provide development opportunities to its staff, technical, leadership, command competencies need to be measured and assessed. Career firefighters are assessed at every stage of their training and development and we see that this should continue, culminating in the biggest assessment process, the job application and interview process that Career officers undertake.

    We need to ensure the highest standards of trustworthiness are maintained in recruitment processes, we need to maintain the highest standards of entry to Career firefighting ranks are maintained, developed and built on.

    We do need to recognise that everybody brings something to the party and that they should be recognised for their contributions, operationally, or in support of operations.

Section 7, Moving towards Unification

  • Operational Boundaries
    We see that sub regions should be Areas. Everyone understands that term. It is important that current collective agreements are honoured in terms of transfers, appointments and vacancies until reviewed jointly by the NZPFU and management. We feel that Career firefighters should be managed by Area and Assistant Area managers as we know them now. We know their skills and qualifications and the process they have had to meet to get appointed to their jobs. We can not say the same for anyone else. They understand the people and the job and have specific command and control roles to play with Career and Volunteer firefighters. Brigades are the appropriate name for brigades.

  • Modular Service Delivery
    The key point here is that Career firefighters are best placed, trained and therefore should be resourced to support Volunteer brigades to do the tasks they are not able to do. Modular design framework should be looking at the evidence based approach of what the risks are and how are we best to provide for those risks. Rope rescue, Hazardous substances, Ship/boat firefighting, the list goes on. This should be a growth area for Career firefighters and Career stations into the future. Career firefighters have the abilities, training, skills and experience to undertake all of these “specialist” functions that are more of a burden on Volunteers time in order to maintain compliance and competence. Isolation needs to be factored in to this equation too. Communities a long way from Career stations probably should be considering Career staffing to meet the community’s risks and needs. Clearly, we see that this model appreciates the value, skills and experience that Career firefighters can bring to communities and assistance to what has usually been a burden on Volunteers.

  • Command and Control
    The entire paper that the NZPFU has developed with it’s SME’s is available online.

Command level every officer should have a command level built into their rank, based on weight of training, qualifications, experience and assessed competency. When arriving at an emergency responded to, the person with highest command level may make 1 of 2 decisions

  1. I am in support of or
  2. I am taking over

Clearly, Career firefighter and officer training, assessment, exams, interviews are far wider and deeper than Volunteers. It therefore makes sense and can be proven by evidence that career officers should be the ones deciding the 1 of 2 questions above. This process will work across career stations and volunteer areas/stations as everyone will be assessed to a command level which will be easily identified.

Volunteer skills recognised in Career recruitment course process
One idea we have been considering is for example, if a Volunteer reaches SFF volunteer TAPS and they wish to apply for a Career position, they must pass the recruitment process the same as everyone else, they can be assessed to a level to be agreed, hose running BA etc (to be agreed) and then is passed as competent, then they can undergo a shorter (4 -6 weeks?) recruits course, then carry on through the ranks as per every other Career firefighter. (plenty of work will be needed to be done here if anything like this would proceed) We are very mindful of protecting the Career process and firefighters and any Volunteer entering through this process, ensuring a rigorous assessment process so that they are beyond reproach.

Volunteers retain a leadership rank/role, ensuring continued mana within their brigades and communities.
Rank must reflect command level under TOM HLD, each officer in FENZ will be assigned a command level as per above
Volunteers will be required to complement any IMT given their standing within the community, experience and local knowledge

Volunteers may have the ability to undertake Career TAPS
A system of how to achieve this will need to be developed given the obvious time constraints for Volunteers, the effect on sustainability and concerns Career firefighters might have
We see any potential lateral entry at the strategic IMT level, with specialists appointed to positions they are experts/qualified in.

We see a further layer of support/command and control being in place
i.e. metro commander, provincial commander, responsible for development, sustainability, early higher level command and control available and to assist with compliance.

A TAP system be developed for Rural,where competency is assessed, and career paths identified and therefore command levels set
Quite how we fit Rural into this system is a struggle for us at the moment as their qualifications are a bit vague and hard to pin down

  • Competency
    It is our view that competency needs to be assessed and current. We feel that Career firefighters are higher trained, qualified and assessed to a higher standard than Volunteer firefighters/officers. This is quite clear when comparing TAPS program content and discussing assessment processes with trainers and assessors. We really have 2 positions, one is that the burden on volunteers to be trained and assessed to the same standard (you just can’t be assessed to the same standard if you haven’t done the same level of training and assessment prior to being assessed as an officer) will be too great and it could be seen as a benefit to being a volunteer that they are only required to be trained to a lower level due to constraints and sustainability issues. This of course means that when Career officers arrive on a fire ground, their greater training, skills, qualifications and assessed competencies means they should be the ones making the 1 of 2 decisions, to take over or to act in support.

    Our second position is that if volunteers elect to undertake the same training as Career firefighters, then every single competency must be assessed to exactly the same stringent standard

  • Visual Identification
    This is extremely important in 3 ways, defining operational and leadership assessed and current competence, early and rapid identification of who is responsible for being in control and command at an incident and defining operational and non-operational roles.

    Incidents are rapidly changing environments and firefighters need to be able to instantly make a decision about another officers or firefighters competence, they need to instantly make 1 of two decisions, I am taking over or, I am acting in support. Our position, as described in the Command and Control paper mentioned above is that across the country, it should be easy for any firefighter and officer to instantly identify another’s assessed competency level.

Summary of the draft risk reduction strategy

  • We should have a Directorate of Risk Management if it is the primary focus of FENZ. This Directorate should have its own Director on SLT.
  • Management should not be buried in the Community Resilience model, there should be a stand-alone Risk Department.
  • Risk Management should not beunder the total control of a Service Delivery Director model, operations will always outweigh risk management under this heiracy.
  • We should be embracing the focus on risk management as a positive step, not negative. If done properly it will assist protecting the safety of Firefighters and the public alike. Operations staff shouldn’t be afraid risk management might take away the need for them.
  • There should be dedicated specialist people in the role in many locations to deal with fire investigation, community education/promotions and the built environment.
  • In some locations we need generalists, to perform all three of those roles due to geographical locations.
  • There should be specialist well-resourced departments within Risk Management such Building Control, Fire Engineering, Fire Investigation, Community Education, Promotions and perhaps others.
  • FENZ do many things in the risk space now, but we don’t do them well. FENZ need to lock down what we should be doing before charging off and performing all sorts of other roles.
  • We should be trying to make the risk management role attractive so people from operations want to and should spend time in the department as part of a promotional chain.
  • Risk Management needs to be better resourced at all levels, NHQ to the coal face and everything in between.
  • Risk Managers in FENZ should be employed in house and be dedicated people, the role of risk management should not be outsourced to contractors.
  • Operations staff should be doing many of the risk management tasks they currently areas time allows and not at the expense of them being in total control of all their operational needs/requirements.
  • If Operations staff can’t perform all the tasks, lack of staff in the risk management role should not be used as the excuse for not achieving.
  • Current fire risk management roles/tasks should remain and not be reduced due to lack of FRMO’s. If this happens operations staff will need to pick up these roles/tasks at the expense of operational readiness or the services provided will need to be dropped placing at risk the health and safety of the public and firefighters alike.
  • Risk management should accept any/most new roles as long as they have the capacity (staff), resources (tools to do the job), training and remuneration to perform whatever is discussed/adopted.
  • FENZ should finish off what it has started ie Inspector roles and all the requirements of it including evidence collection and imminent danger. Collecting evidence can and should be an important part of our role.
  • FRMO or whatever they are going to be called should be remunerated better for the roles that they do and are expected to perform.

The “consider this” web site

This is a new tool that FENZ are using to generate comments, ideas and interest on the various topic mentioned here and in the consultation and detailed design document.

We recommend members participate in the discussion, have your expert operational/ Fire risk management and VSO say on the future of the organisation. You can like other comments and if you disagree, comment on them outlining your point of view. We have provided you with some ideas above on our view of the document, you can choose to incorporate those or add your own views.

This is a moderated forum so we encourage members to be constructive, and not defamatory to any other group within FENZ.

This is your chance to put your professional, expert operational views on the future of this organisation and what and how we do it.

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