Another nail in the coffin for Firefighters

Just before Christmas, the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill was reported back from the Select Committee.

Not surprisingly, not one of the Union Submissions has been reflected in the reported back Bill.

  1. The name of the new Organisation does not include ‘Service’.
    Although this might appear quite trivial, it is a slap in the face to all the many thousands of dedicated men and women who over many years have provided and still provide a wonderful service to their communities – whether Career or Volunteer.
    The only rational explanation is that the use of the concept of Service was resisted by the bureaucrats who cannot understand the concept of Service to their communities.

  2. The Bill still contains little or no reference to Operations and Operational Command and Control. FENZ relegates Operations to the background and this has been clearly demonstrated with the Leadership Structure the Commission has put in place.

  3. Conditions of Employment have been have been reduced or eliminated in the Bill:
  • Gratuities – although the Bill allows FENZ to pay a Gratuity to new employees, the Bill does not require this (as the Fire Service Act does)
  • Medical Boarding – the Bill requires any challenge to a FENZ decision to Medical Board you to be challenged through the Personal Grievance Provision. The Bill also allows all Firefighters challenging a decision to Medically Board, to be placed on Leave without Pay.
    At present, Firefighters remain on pay while the appeal procedure proceeds and the Employer meets the cost of an appeal.
    The Bill allows FENZ to put you on LWOP for many months while the Personal Grievance process proceeds and require the Firefighter to pay the cost – as this is essentially a medical decision, specialist medical advice will cost thousands – totally unfair.

Make no mistake, this Legislation is equally as bad as what Roger Estall and Crew were proposing some years ago.

Members may have seen the adverts for the new FENZ positions – Chief Executive, National Rural Fire Manager and National Commander Urban.

The Union has previously commented on the stupidity of an Operational Service having a Civilian Chief Executive (the position is by definition Civilian as the person does not have the primary responsibility for leading the development and Operational delivery of services).

The Commission, in their wisdom, have said they will retain Urban and Rural boundaries for Operational matters but have not given any guidance as to who would be operationally responsible for an incident such as Icepack – Tamahere; or even vegetation fires of which over 95% are exclusively dealt with by Urban Fire Services.

There has been no answer from the Commission as to what all these new Regional Rural Fire positions will actually do or be required to do. But all these Rural positions will now have equal status to Urban positions and we can all expect these Rural positions to attempt to take Operational Command and Control over at least some Urban Firefighters.

So we are left with a Fire Service that will

  • Lack any commitment to the concept of Service
  • Relegate Operations to the background
  • Denigrates the current uniform and history/traditions - after all what is the rebranding exercise costing millions of dollars all about.
  • Elevates and focuses on Rural – so much for a merger. Rural and Urban are more separated than even with the appointment of Regional Rural Fire Managers – their own little empires.
  • The list goes on.

The reported back Bill gives this Commission free reign to do what they like – and hopelessly out of their depth and totally inept – this is a scary prospect for all of us.

Maybe it is simply a legacy issue of Peter Dunne.

Peter Dunne – the man who destroyed the Fire Service.

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