Further to the ongoing series of notices on Fire and Emergency’s willingness to close down fire stations in a pandemic (9 January and 22 January); fire trucks and fire stations throughout Auckland continue to close down, fire trucks continue to respond to emergencies with less than safe staffing or without trained Officers, and Fire Communication Centres are continually operating short staffed.
These closures and shortages DID NOT necessarily need to happen.
On Wednesday 2 March yet another four fire trucks and specialist vehicles were closed due to a lack of firefighter staffing:
- Auckland City
These fire trucks did NOT necessarily need to be closed as we had firefighters that could have worked but were prevented from doing so as Fire and Emergency does not want to pay them the additional overtime and reimbursement of a day’s leave.
During a period of a global pandemic where New Zealand is now facing over 20,000 Covid cases daily (many in Tamaki Makaurau), Fire and Emergency continues to refuse to agree to a vacancy fulfilment policy in order to use ALL available avenues to try to cover critical firefighting and 111 emergency dispatching positions.
It seems that Fire and Emergency would rather staff work 80, 90, to 100 hours a week than allow those on leave to return on overtime voluntarily to assist their fellow firefighters and dispatchers.
Our Rostering staff have gone above and beyond throughout this Global Pandemic for the last 18 months, trying to find coverage for vacancies to ensure safe systems of work are maintained. Unfortunately, they are not being backed up by the Fire and Emergency District Managers whose job it is to ensure that the Minimum Shift Staffing of Firefighters and Dispatchers throughout Auckland is maintained, and the public is kept safe.
The Local has attempted to find agreement with Fire and Emergency without success.
It is the Local’s recommendation that once Rostering staff have exhausted options currently available to them and allowed, then any unfilled vacancies are presented to the on-call Group Manager to fill.
It is NOT the job of Rostering staff to make operational decisions around which stations to keep open or which to close, or which people to move. These are decisions that must be made by Fire and Emergency Management.
If staff are asked to move stations or positions, then we recommend that this is done AFTER the member has started their shift and at Fire and Emergency’s expense.
Note - Officers can choose to work as Firefighters but CANNOT be compelled to do so.
We recognise that this may present some disruption to members, but it could easily have been prevented had Fire and Emergency agreed to a Vacancy Fulfilment Policy during a Global Pandemic, as the Union has been asking for, for many, many months.
The Local continues to advocate for safe systems of work, and these recommendations are not made lightly. Firefighters and Emergency Dispatchers have had enough of being taken advantage of by an organisation that purports to stand by the values of "We Do the Right Thing", "We are Better Together", We Serve and Support" and "We Strive to Improve".
Fire and Emergency’s actions have spoken much louder than these empty words on the page they say they follow.
If you have any questions, please contact one of your Station Representatives.