As a result of the Collective Agreement Bargaining for our CEA the NZPFU entered into three working groups with Fire and Emergency. 

One of those working groups was tasked with addressing members' issues around structural firefighting boots and structural firefighting helmets.

The NZPFU members of the team working on Firefighter PPE are Rob Hutchison (NZPFU Central Branch Secretary and NZPFU Wellington Local Secretary), Emma Carey (Auckland Firefighter and SME), Jonny Anderson (Wellington Firefighter and NZPFU Standards Representative), Mike Stewart (Christchurch Firefighter and SME), and me (National Vice President).

Two key decisions have been agreed by the joint NZPFU/FENZ Equipment Working Group (EWG). The first is that we have agreed to trial a number of Structural Firefighting Helmets to replace the current Pacific F10. Secondly, we have agreed to move away from rubber structural firefighting boots.

Boots - The EWG is aware of the struggles members have had with the sizing, weight, and rigidity of the current structural boots. For this reason we have decided to begin trials for replacement boots. We will be trialling a number of boots that are lighter and more flexible with the intention of providing at least two structural firefighting boot options. While the types of boots we will be considering have a measure of hazardous material resistance, it won't be to the same degree as the current Skellerup rubber boots. The EWG are more than confident that contemporary firefighting, and decontamination tactics provide ample justification to make this change. We are looking to begin the trial process in September, with a range of boots available as soon as possible. 

As an interim measure, the EWG have agreed to issue a taller, side zip version of the Magnum Vulcan as an alternative structure boot while we go through the trial process. The purpose of these boots is to resolve the sizing, medical, and comfort issues that many members are facing with the current gumboots. There are a few considerations for these interim boots though, firstly because of the significant lead time required for manufacturing we need the numbers and sizing of the interim boots by the end of July. Due to the limited number of boots available, we also want to give priority to those members who are legitimately struggling with the current boots. While we aren't requiring any medical certification for issuing of the interim boots, we want to make sure that 'those that need them get them'.

The interim boots are a little shorter than the current gumboots, so members who have ordered them must re-check the length sizing of their current structural trousers. If there is any possibility of any part of their leg being exposed during working movements they must replace their structural pants with a longer size. As a guide, Australian brigades who wear these boots size their structural pants so that the cuffs are just touching the floor.

Education about the limitations of the interim boots, as a structural firefighting boot, will be issued with the boots when they are ordered.

Helmets -  In conjunction with replacing the F10 helmet, the EWG has decided that the 'one size fits all' approach to Firefighting Helmets is no longer appropriate. This means that there will be more than one helmet available for issue. Once we have completed our comprehensive trial process more information will be made available about which helmets have been selected, and how they can be ordered.

The second outcome is that the EWG has agreed that all non-compliant Pacific F3 helmets (all F3 variants other than the F3 D Mark 2) must come out of service. We have made this decision to ensure that all personnel have Firefighting Helmets that meet the current AS/NZ Firefighting Helmet Standard. Any member who currently has an F3 XL or F3 C, and uses it operationally, must exchange it for a F3 D Mark 2 Generation 2. The process for exchanging old helmets will be facilitated by each District Management. Any members who have requested F3 helmets for medical reasons can exchange their F10 also. It's important to note that at the end of the trial process other firefighting helmets will be available for replacement of the F10, and we want members to have access to this new PPE when it becomes available.

ACTIONS - If you feel like you might need a set of interim structural firefighting boots please provide your name and your  "US" sizing to your local committee uniform representative by 31st July.

If you have any questions about the outcomes of the Equipment Working Group, please contact your local uniform rep.

Joe Stanley
National Vice President

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