FENZ’s failure to employ the professional career firefighters necessary to maintain minimum staffing across New Zealand in peace time is a primary reason it cannot sustain even a small drop in firefighters during this Covid-19 crisis.
We are heading into the perfect storm where even a small percentage of career and volunteer firefighters being taken off the trucks due to their vaccination status will seriously impact FENZ’s ability to maintain current levels and standards of response. FENZ relies heavily on firefighters undertaking significant levels of overtime to maintain the protection to the community. Some areas including Auckland are struggling to maintain minimum crew levels and have been for years. FENZ has failed to plan staffing levels based on risk, population growth, demographics and predicted increases in types of emergency response including medical response and extreme weather events. Staffing numbers across the country have barely changed since the 1990s.
FENZ has applied for a temporary exception to the mandatory Order to ensure community protection can be maintained next week. The NZPFU is also calling on Government to give FENZ a temporary reprieve for public safety and protection reasons. It is vital that that levels and standards of response will not be crippled on Tuesday or the days and weeks following.
Even if granted, the exception only be a temporary reprieve.
PROCESS FOR AFFECTED NZPFU MEMBERS
In the meantime we have to continue preparing for the situation where an exception is not granted and the mandatory Order is implemented as of midnight on 15th November 2021.
Firefighters and CRR and RR members are reminded that if they have not notified FENZ of their vaccination status on or before the 15th November 2021 they will be treated as unvaccinated and will not be responding as firefighters until they notify FENZ they are Covid-19 vaccinated. Region and District Managers will be approaching those that have not declared their vaccination status.
- In accordance with the Order FENZ is required to ask those whose current roles are affected by the mandatory order for their vaccination status. Please see the previous national notice explaining those requirements under the Order and process for notification.
- Any person who undertake work covered by the mandatory order must provide the above information to FENZ as soon as practicable and update that information as soon as practicable after their vaccination status changes.
FENZ is then required to consult with each and every affected unvaccinated person. That consultation must include genuine consideration of any alternative work or duties available.
- Every member is entitled to seek advice and to have support/representation at those meetings. Please see the previous national notice setting out the Local representatives that will assist.
- FENZ has confirmed it will not be able to have those discussions with everyone before Tuesday.
- FENZ has also confirmed it has not considered any alternative duties or work that may be available, other than current advertised vacancies. FENZ has stated it is concentrating on planning for operational response with reduced staffing on Tuesday. Therefore it will not be in a position to consider any other options until it is known exactly the numbers of career and volunteer firefighters that are not vaccinated and undertaken the operational planning needed to address that gap.
- If you are currently on leave you cannot be required to attend these meetings with management until your return.
We are working with FENZ to ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to maintain terms and conditions of employment for affected unvaccinated members while FENZ undertakes its legal obligations to consult. FENZ is obligated to maintain terms and conditions of employment while it carries out its legal obligations to consult.
We are negotiating with FENZ on a range of matters including the outcomes for affected members that remain unvaccinated and are ultimately not offered alternative duties. We understand the pressure our members are under and are working to get those matters resolved as soon as practicable.
We are very conscious of the significant pressure our members are under. Please do not hesitate to ask for support or referrals to professional and medical support. We do not underestimate what you are going through at this time including the economic pressure and uncertainty you are facing.
We strongly recommend anyone under pressure and feeling stressed and anxious to see their GP and take sick leave as necessary. It is important that you access all available support including paid sick leave through this period if the current situation is understandably impacting on your health and wellbeing.