For a long time now (going back to the 90s), the Union has been an advocate for a review of he Fire Service Funding Mechanism and the legislative mandate to recognize the reality of the expected operations/function that Firefighters carry out on a day to day basis.
Previous governments and the associated bureaucracy have accepted the existence of the problem(s), but implementing the necessary solutions has always proved too difficult. We can only hope that this time solutions/answers will be arrived at that address the problem(s).
The Funding Mechanism firstly simply does not recognize the reality of the present Role of Firefighters. A levy on fire insurance does not provide funding for day to day activities such as motor vehicle accidents, assisting Ambulance, floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters. Firefighters are providing these response roles to their communities for free.
Secondly, the present levy is open to avoidance, with persons not insuring, under‐insuring, or engaging in various avoidance schemes.
Firefighters’ role in the wider emergency/rescue role needs to be properly legislated for and reflected in the new Fire Service Act. Presently the legislative frame is inadequate and only concentrated on the fire response.
The Terms of Reference for the review are attached.
What is also interesting are the exclusions from the T.O.R. (are not to be reported on). These include:
- Whether the Fire Service should be funded by the Government;
- Whether the industrial relations framework applying to Firefighters should be reformed.
The Union will be asked to provide submissions and possibly meet with the Review Panel and looks forward to this.
Sentencing/Aggravating Factors Amendment Bill
The Union has been advised by Charles Chauvel and Maryan Street that their Amendment to protect Firefighters, Ambulance, First aid and Paramedic Staff, in the same way as the government wishes to protect Police and Prison Officers, has come a step closer. All parties (except the Mana and Maori parties) have agreed to their Amendment at the Committee stages of the Sentencing (Aggravating Factors) Amendment Bill.
This means that only the Third Reading and the Royal Assent of the Bill are now required before it becomes law. This is expected to happen shortly.