Members will be aware that Basil Cuthbert, the Auckland Region Operational Planning Officer, a non operational position, has been appointed by FRM Butt as the Acting DCFO or Assistant Area Manager, for the Waitemata Fire Area or the North West Fire District, depending on which title is the most convenient.
The NZPFU Auckland Local has strongly objected on two separate occasions to FRM Butt regarding this appointment, both times the objection has been rejected.
Yesterday, Monday, the Auckland Local advised the media through a media release, of our frustration and concern about this appointment and the risks to the health and safety of our members in following any operational instructions given to them by Cuthbert (see NTM ALC-09-39 Non Operational Staff in Senior Operational Roles). FRM Butt has expressed his opinions to the media and denied that there is any risk to the health and safety of our members. He has stated that as the appointment is only temporary, the officer concerned does not have to pass the PCA and as he also has more operational service than FRM Butt has, Butt has "absolute confidence in him being able to do the job on the fireground".
The Auckland Local does not share FRM Butt's confidence and will continue to press for the removal of Operational Planning Officer Cuthbert from the role to which he has been appointed.
FRM Butt's flippancy when dealing with our concerns has the Auckland Local worried that next time a temporary position comes up, he may appoint one of the Region Office staff to the position, as it appears that temporary operational position holders do not have to complete the PCA, despite the National Commander and the CEA directing that all operational staff must successfully complete the PCA and if they do not they are to be immediately removed from operational duties.
In his statement to the media, FRM Butt has also denied the fact that the Comcen database does not contain any reference to the Puhoi tunnels or the Northern Gateway. This is absolutely untrue. The database only refers to Johnstone's Hill, which most people passing through would not know.
He has denied that this and other omissions from the database, such as the South Eastern Highway Fire Zones, will compromise the safety of the public and will cause delay to response or possibly allow the wrong appliances to be dispatched. This is also absolutely untrue. However, he has admitted that the CAD system does not have the mapping data loaded onto the computer and has stated that this will be completed by the end of the month (which is 4 days time). He has also stated that "the service had a predetermined response for all types of events in the zone where the tunnel was". Unfortunately, the area that the tunnel is in, and the South Eastern Highway, do not have current zones allocated to them. This zone allocation is part of the Operational Planning Officer’s job, and FRM Butt has taken Cuthbert away from that job, to do another job for which he is not qualified.
Members can be assured that this matter is far from over, and the Auckland Local will pursue every avenue to ensure that this appointment is annulled, and that this type of appointment does not happen again.