FENZ has repeatedly claimed through the disestablishment of Area Managers and the establishment of District and Group Manager positions that only the suitably qualified and experienced will be appointed.   

In recent correspondence from the National Commander (in response to the NZPFU criticisms of the Technical Competency Framework process) this claim was reaffirmed with the statement  

“Fire and Emergency will not implement any roster or command system that is not safe and effective. Fire and Emergency will take all reasonable steps to ensure that, having carefully considered and responded to any feedback received from relevant stakeholders including the NZPFU, any changes to current roster and command systems are safe and effective before implementation. This includes ensuring that a person is not in command of an incident for which they are not suited. In this regard, FENZ will have a range of expertise to call on, and it is not the case that someone in the role of Group Manager for example, has to have the expertise to command every type of incident. A person with expertise in the natural environment for example, but not in the urban structure environment, will not be in charge of an urban structural fire.”

And

“As you know, we are still some time away from the completion of the new Technical Competency Framework, and its implementation. However, at all times Fire and Emergency has been really clear that post implementation, rosters will continue to operate in the manner they do today in that only those with the relevant experience will be able to control an incident i.e., those people competent in the built environment will only be able to be on the built environment District Senior Office on-call roster and those people competent in the natural environment will only be able to be on the natural environment District Senior Officer on-call roster. Furthermore, the roles of Incident Control Operations Manager and Sector Commander must be filled by a person who is assessed as competent in the environment of the incident.”

So when the newly appointed District Managers were announced, we asked for the relevant information to confirm FENZ’s repeated position.

But, five weeks after requesting the rosters, areas of command and management and the qualifications of the newly appointed District Managers, not only have we not received any of the information requested, FENZ has notified of taking up to another 5 weeks to make a decision on whether to provide that information.

  1. On the 7th April 2021 the National Commander announced the newly appointed District Managers.

  2. That same day the NZPFU wrote to the National Commander requesting the following information:

    - Can you please provide for each appointment the qualifications, experience and current competencies of each of those appointed?
    - Can you please provide for each appointment whether they will be afforded an ACL and if so at what level?
    - Can you please provide for each appointment the rosters they will be assigned to and the basis for that assignment?
    - Can you please confirm for each appointment whether they will be managing career firefighters in their workplace?
    - Can you please confirm for each appointment whether they will be in command of career firefighters on the incident ground, and if so for what types of respond.

  3. On the 28th April we followed up the request noting that the information requested directly impacted on the health and safety of firefighters on the incident ground, and the communities in which they response.  

  4. Two days later (the 30th) the National Commander responded that they were working on a response to our questions, that they were treating it as an Official Information Request and that they would need to consult with the individuals concerned and then FENZ will decide on whether to release the information.  (Note: FENZ regularly treats our requests (regardless of subject) as an OIA request, and then often notifies on the 20th day it cannot meet the 20 day deadline and are extending the time to make a decision).

  5. On the 3rd May we responded questioning why FENZ would not have the information to hand, given they had just been through the recruitment and appointment process, and surely as FENZ had established these positions they would have appointed knowing what they would be doing in those roles.

  6. Today, 6 May we receive notification that they cannot meet the 20 day deadline under the Official Information Act and were notifying of an extension to make their decision (as to release the information or not) to the 18th June 2021.  Despite not having made a decision on whether to release information or not, they “anticipate” being able to respond to “some parts” of our request “in the near future”.  It will be 10 weeks since we made the request by the 18th June 2021 and at least 10 weeks since the District Managers were appointed.

We don’t understand how the rosters, who the DMs will manage, who they will command and the areas and types of incidents they will respond could not have been provided when we made the request in April. 

FENZ has not even confirmed they will provide the information as that decision is yet to be made.  It is really disappointing that FENZ is using the OIA process to delay providing the information on what rosters they have been designated and the types of response they are deemed competent to respond to.   

As FENZ has been through a process to establish these positions, determine where they would be based and what they would be doing, we would expect that the answers to the next four questions would also be easy to provide.  They are also fundamental to FENZ’s obligations to provide a safe workplace for anyone coming into contact with the appointees at work including on any incident ground. 

Until we have that information we are advising our members that FENZ has been unable to answer these questions and therefore FENZ has been unable to demonstrate or confirm meeting its obligations to provide a safe workplace and safe systems of work.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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