This afternoon we held a meeting of the National Committee and all Local representatives by teleconference to keep them up to date with developments and to discuss any issues arising for those Locals. Key points discussed are as follows.
1. The primary change for our members resulting from Government announcement declaring New Zealand COVID-19 Alert Level 2 today is the direction for those aged 70 and over or with underlying medical conditions to stay home.
- This will mean that some firefighters who would otherwise have been at work will now be asked to stay at home.
- The National Council has a meeting by telephone conference to discuss the possible implications if areas struggle with firefighter numbers and relief.
- Please support your firefighters that will be affected by this new direction. They will be placed on special leave. There may be some instances where the Local could discuss with the firefighter and management other options such as project work from home. Please ensure you keep in contact with those in isolation so that they are supported and kept up to date with events.
- We remind everyone that mental wellness assistance for FENZ and their families continue to be available.
2. The NZPFU and UFBA agree that all measures to limit unnecessary contact with members of the public, and to limit contact between stations and brigades, should be implemented.
- We were in communication with the UFBA yesterday to discuss upcoming training and both organisations agree that only training that is necessary to sustain operational capacity and capability should be undertaken. Three volunteer training courses were postponed yesterday as they were not deemed to be necessary in the current circumstances.
- We remind everyone to take all practical precautions to limit contact with one another. If it is a co-location station please take all practical actions to separate crews and minimise contact. It is important we minimise those accommodated together in order to minimise the risk of contact, but also in preparation of the possible circumstances where someone tests positive, or comes in contact with someone who tests positive. Limiting the contact between stations and brigades will assist in limiting those that need to be isolated should any positive testing result. As outlined in our notice yesterday, only responding crews should be on station.
3. The FENZ operations/response working parties are up and running. We are hopeful that this new structure dedicated to planning for possible scenarios for this crisis including protocols for response will now occur and be well communicated.
- We can now confirm the NZPFU representation on the Regional Operational/Service Delivery Covid-19 working groups:
Region 1: Martin Campbell (Auckland)
Region 2: Peter Reddish (Hamilton)
Region 3: Peter Harwood (Hawkes Bay)
Region 4: Aaron McKay (Christchurch)
Region 5: Mark Leonard (Dunedin)
- These 5 representatives will be in contact with each other to ensure consistency around the country, and to support. Mark Leonard will be the convenor of the group for the NZPFU and he will raising any issues and concerns directly with the NZPFU Council.
- In additional Wellington Local Secretary Alan Collett is part of a National working party and is also working in HQ as an SSO to assist with planning including developing a response matrix.
- We have received a number of issues and questions from members regarding precautionary measures and protocols for response and fed them into the National working party system for resolution. Some of the issues being raised have already been communicated by FENZ or are evident in protocols. Members are reminded FENZ has a dedicated area on the portal where resources and information is being provided. We understand that issues will arise that have not been considered, or the crew has not had time to go to the Portal. In those instances go to your Officer or Manager first. If you can’t get a response, or have an issue with the response then contact your union representative.
4. A special message for our Career Officers:
During these extraordinary times it is the leaders of crews that are needed to set standards and give direction. Your crews will be looking to you for leadership and assurance, not only in response to incidents, but also on station. In addition to business as usual you will need to ensure cleanliness standards around stations are met, enforce limited social interaction amongst your crews and with the public.
- Please monitor staff for signs and symptoms and where necessary enforce precautionary measures, this may include sending someone home while on duty.
- In response, utilise your training and procedures to ensure crew and public safety. Gain situational awareness, apply a dynamic risk assessment, utilise the appropriate PPE for the task and follow procedures.
- Level-headed leadership will bring calm to crews around the country and an understanding of the virus and its transmission coupled with the application of common sense will see us able to maintain response to the NZ public in a professional manner during this event.
- We manage risk every day, this is just another risk for us to manage as firefighters and your union encourages you to lead our members through this situation
We thank each and every one of our members for the work they do to protect the community. We will keep members informed as the situation develops.