Fire and Emergency Play Russian Roulette with Public Safety

Members will be aware that Fire and Emergency continues to treat the safety of the New Zealand public with contempt, with the decision to relocate specialist heavy aerial resourcing from Auckland to Hamilton, leaving 1.72 million people with just the protection of ONE heavy aerial rescue truck.

FENZ’s failure to pursue a National Aerial Appliance strategy to completion as per recommendation 5  of the AFAC Independent Operational Review into the International Convention Centre Fire (Fire and Emergency New Zealand should progress the review of its aerial appliance strategy to completion, to include the training of additional aerial appliance operators in the next 12 months), and a lack of historic investment in the heavy aerial fleet nationally is impacting on the ability of the organisation to deliver a safe, fit for purpose, and modern first world fire and emergency service to the public.

As members know, Tamaki Makaurau is comprised of New Zealand’s three largest cities with a population of 1.72 million people.  The city is made up of diverse communities from Papakura/ Franklin in the south all the way north to Wellsford in Rodney; much of this population residing in high density, medium rise buildings that are often un-sprinklered.  Additionally, super large warehousing, some as big as 8 rugby fields, is becoming common.  The Central Business District contains some of the tallest buildings in New Zealand, including many legacy high-rise commercial and residential accommodation that remains un-sprinklered. 

We note that the Parnell Type 5 (PARN255, Rego EER891) aerial appliance continues to remain out of commission due to a long-standing safety fault since it went away for its COF and annual survey in March 2021.  The history of the fault is detailed below:

  • 16 July - failed due to clunking noises during rotation of boom and only reached a max height of 27.6 metres
  • 20  July - clunking noises in turntable during rotation of boom
  • 21 July - clunking noises in turntable during rotation of boom
  • 23 July - clunking noises in turntable during rotation of boom, Noise coming from between sub frame and chassis (Advised this was just surface rust, later diagnosed as incorrect washers and over tightening of nuts)
  • 24 July - clunking noises in turn table during rotation of boom, Noise coming from between sub frame and chassis
  • 28 July - clunking noises in turntable during rotation of boom, Noise coming from between sub frame and chassis (later diagnosed as incorrect washers fitted to sub frame)
  • 6 August - clunking noises in turntable during rotation of boom.  Boom continued to rotate at full speed for a period of time after releasing controls, time delay when swapping rotation from one direction to another approx. 6 seconds
  • 14 September - boom continued to rotate at full speed for a period of time after releasing controls, time delay when swapping rotation from one direction to another approx. 6 seconds. Prior to our arrival for acceptance test it wasn’t able to rotate in one direction. Rotation slower in clockwise direction.
  • 15 September - boom continued to rotate at full speed for a period of time after releasing controls, Rotation slower in anti-clockwise direction, time delay when swapping rotation from one direction to another approx. 6 seconds
  • 16 September - time delay when swapping rotation from one direction to another approx. 6 seconds.  Rotation of boom not smooth as it was previously when continuing to rotate in the same direction after pausing briefly

This appliance has failed an acceptance test by experienced heavy aerial operators on health and safety reasons on multiple occasions and returned to the service provider for further repair.

The Local reminds our members it is not in your interest to use this appliance either for training or an emergency until such time as it has successfully passed an acceptance test proving that it is safe to use, and free from defect. 

Until such time as this appliance is proven to be safe for our members and the public, we recommend that members exercise your right under Section 83(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 if you are ordered to use it.

83 Right of worker to cease or refuse to carry out unsafe work
(1)
(1) A worker may cease, or refuse to carry out, work if the worker believes that carrying out the work would expose the worker, or any other person, to a serious risk to the worker’s or other person’s health or safety arising from an immediate or imminent exposure to a hazard.

This recommendation only applies to this particular appliance (Rego EER891) and does not prevent members from using another suitable relief heavy aerial appliance that Fire and Emergency may provide that is safe and fit for purpose.

The Local will continue to keep members updated on the issue, meanwhile, any queries can be forwarded to the Local Executive.

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