COVID-19 Update #4

NZPFU Representatives on Regional COVID-19 Committees

FENZ has agreed to have union representatives at the National and Regional levels on working groups/committees determining necessary operations planning and response protocols.  It is imperative that professional career firefighters are throughout the chain of discussions and decision-making including at SSO and SO level so that all practical implications are considered to ensure the most effective and pragmatic response protocols are implemented. 

The National Committee will select our representatives for these FENZ committees for their experience and expertise and may not necessarily be Officers of the union.  Their role will be primarily as professional operational career firefighters using their skills and expertise to enhance the protocols being developed.  They will also be feeding back to the national structure of the union any developments, and any matters that would require union involvement and/or agreement.   If any matters arise that impact on contractual or current working terms and conditions, the National Union will make the decisions as to the union agreement. These representatives will not be agreeing to matters that impact on your employment rights.

We will ensure our representatives are in communique as a group as well as feeding back to the national union.  We are hopeful these structures will mean the necessary operational/response protocols for these extraordinary circumstances as well as planning for continued and sustained emergency response will be achieved, and communication will be greatly improved. 

In addition, the NZPFU will have a representative on the National Covid-19 Service Delivery group that is to be headed by Nick Pyatt.  The MZPFU medical response SME Justin Murtha will be a resource for that committee as well as maintain his role on the FENZ across organisation Covid-19 working party.

We are in the process of finalising our representatives and will be able to announce them shortly.

It is important that firefighters take all precautions to keep themselves safe while protecting the community.   It is imperative that we have a sustainable professional career workforce over the coming months to respond in these extraordinary times.

The following is the NZPFU position on key matters:

  • If anyone is in any doubt as to their health (due to international travel, living with other returning international travellers or being in proximity to known cases of the Covid-19 virus, or persons being tested for the virus), they should immediately self-isolate away from the workplace and immediately notify their manager.   Those required or requested to self-isolate under Government guidelines will be granted special leave for the 14 day self-isolation period.  If the person is currently on annual leave that will be converted to special leave.  If the person is unwell it will be sick leave.
  • Members are reminded that all mental health and wellbeing resources currently available for FENZ staff and their families are also available for those concerned about the impacts of the pandemic and their personal circumstances.
  • All travel to be restricted where possible.  This includes between stations for non-urgent tasks or activities.  This includes training that is not necessary to maintain operational capacity and capability.
  • All domestic/international travel for union work will cease until further notice.  Some domestic travel may be undertaken if determined necessary by the Union Council.
  • To minimise unnecessary interaction between firefighters and to future-proof for circumstances where firefighters have tested positive for the virus we urge the following measures to be put in place:
      • Maintaining minimum crewing is required but where possible keep station movements to a minimum. Where possible, overtime should be worked on the firefighter’s home station. If overtime must be worked at other stations, first attempt to minimise the number of stations.
      • Where possible, firefighters should not work across regional stations (for example Whanganui and New Plymouth).
      • All drills and training between stations should cease until further notice. Crews should continue with training as crews on their station.
      • PCA to be completed on station with minimal cross-station involvement
      • Enhanced station leaning practices to commence and continue until further notice. Both night and day crews to clean while on shift and this includes all surfaces (keyboards, door-handles, benches light switches etc. Public health advice has stated that the virus can remain on some surfaces for more than 3 days.
      • Limit all unnecessary physical contact including hand shaking etc.
      • Crews are requested to bring sufficient food to station for their shift to avoid crews having to enter high-population areas such as supermarkets
      • All personal hygiene to be reinforced including thorough and regular hand-washing.
    • Restrict all public access to stations, including families of firefighters. Only those on roster should be on station, and those that are not responding as the crews on station but hold other positions within FENZ should make arrangements to work elsewhere (either at area offices of from home with agreement from Management).

    • Where possible, except for emergency response, tasks and activities involving community interaction should cease.   This includes school visits  and the use of off-station gyms etc.
    • Where non-emergency work must continue, (including installing smoke alarms), crews must take all steps to limit the contact with the occupants of the premises.  
      • Before attending to the non-emergency task contact should be made with the occupants to ascertain if there is any known Covid-19 status, or if anyone is currently in self-isolation.
      • Request that the occupants inform the crew where the alarms are and the occupants remain out of the room while being installed.
      • Social distance should be adhered to where practicable, and limit the crew who come in contact with the occupants.
      • Crews that enter the premise should ensure they are wearing protective equipment (glasses, gloves, N95 masks, long sleeves) and wash hands etc post attendance

    This is a fast-moving situation.  We will keep members updated on issues and union positions as they arise.

    In unity,
    Wattie Watson
    National Secretary

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