Executive Officer Appointment – Transalpine Region

Members will recall the Union’s concerns regarding the appointment of a Volunteer Chief Fire Officer, Ross Ditmar, to the position of Assistant Regional Manager in Transalpine Region. This included a legal challenge to the appointment in conjunction with the Executive Officers’ Society.

Subsequently, and even more extraordinarily, Ross Ditmar now holds the position of Area Manager North Canterbury, as well as continuing to hold the position of Chief Fire Officer, Rangiora Volunteer Fire Brigade.

The Union has been actively working with Fire Service management to address our concerns regarding minimum qualification/experience levels for Executive Officers, through the Executive Officer Appointments Working Party.

However, after a recent tragic fire in Rangiora, which both Ross Ditmar and a Regional Manager, Rob Saunders attended in a command capacity, the Union remains concerned that our previously raised concerns were valid.

The Union is aware that the National Commander has ordered an Operational Audit (to be conducted by Bay-Waikato Regional Manager, Owen Kinsella, and National Manager – Operational Standards, Brian Davey). It is the Union’s understanding that interviews etc. were completed last week and the Audit is currently being finalized.

Given the concerns the Union has previously expressed and continues to hold, the Union awaits the Audit findings with keen interest.

Strike Action – Fire Service attempting to employ scab labour

One of the consequences of the present strike action was the impact on the training historically provided by members to persons going to Antarctica as part of the Summer Antarctic Programme.

A week’s training relating generally to fire prevention and firefighting has historically been given, but because of the strike action, this training was caught by the strike action.

The Union was aware that Fire Service management made extensive efforts to find alternative sources of trainers, including from Australia. As a consequence, the Union contacted Peter Marshall, the UFU of Australia National Secretary who immediately advised all Australian Branches of the Fire Service’s attempts to engage scab labour, and that any such approach was to be rejected by their members.

The Union was subsequently advised that the Fire Service had contacted the Tasmanian Fire Service with an urgent request for trainers from Tasmania to come to Christchurch to provide training for the N.Z. Antarctic Team members. The Tasmanian Fire Service provides the training for the Australian Antarctic Team.

When the UFU of Australia Tasmanian Branch Secretary Richard Warwick became aware of this approach, he immediately put a stop on any of his members coming to Christchurch.

The Union sees this as a great example of Trans-Tasman cooperation between the respective Firefighter Unions and demonstrates the value of close Trans-Tasman cooperation and contact.

The Union thanks both Peter Marshall and Richard Warwick for their immediate and strong actions in support of our cause.

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