Members will be aware of the latest update from Fire and Emergency Management about the state of the aerial fleet in Auckland:
Update to Aerial Appliance Availability
Has failed its COF today and is OOC [Out of Commission] until further notice pending repairs. Parnell aerial crew will cross staff the Salvage Tender (6117) and 2529.
This is our only heavy aerial currently remaining in service. As such to reduce the risk of damage or breakdowns this appliance is to remain on station unless permission is sought from Area Office. The appliance is only to be turned out to confirmed fires. All training involving this appliance is to cease.
This is until further notice.
This follows an instruction from last week ordering similar restrictions when the Parnell heavy aerial failed an acceptance test for the fourth time in two weeks, after being off the run for repairs for four months.
It is nearly two years since the devastating fire at the International Convention Centre brought the Auckland Central Business District to its knees for several days. The state of the aerial fleet today remains exactly the same as it did on the afternoon of that fire, where firefighting activities where severely hampered by a lack of heavy aerial appliance resources.
One of the recommendations from the independent operational review following the fire was:
Recommendation 5 Fire and Emergency New Zealand should progress the review of its aerial appliance strategy to completion, to include the training of additional aerial appliance operators in the next 12 months.
Nearly two years on and nothing has changed.
It is abhorrent that firefighters now face a potential disciplinary charge in order to protect communities and firefighters, and maintain safe systems of work.
The Unions advice to members remains:
The Auckland Local has previously stated that the failure of FENZ to plan and procure aerial appliances is their problem and not ours. We disagree with a blanket restriction on Officers requesting the response of the last remaining heavy aerial appliance. We do, however, acknowledge that it is not in the best interests of the community to have the last remaining heavy aerial breakdown or damaged.
In the interests of community and firefighter safety, the Union recommends:
- That Officers continue to request an aerial appliance if in their opinion the specialist capabilities that the heavy aerial appliance provides is required for ANY incident
- That the use and response of the heavy aerial takes into account the fragility of the aerial fleet but community and firefighter safety remains paramount.