Thank you Firefighters!

Today, May 4 is International Firefighters' Day and a time for us all to express our appreciation for the sacrifices firefighters make by putting their health and safety at risk to protect the community.

We honour those that have fallen in the line of duty, including those that have succumbed to occupational illness contracted due to the repeated exposures to trauma or from the toxins and carcinogens at fires. It is time to reflect on those that have passed on before us making the ultimate sacrifice.

NZPFU National President Ian Wright has prepared a special message by video which can be viewed on our YouTube channel. This video is part of a series of messages being collected by FENZ to recognise firefighters today.

Professional career firefighters dedicate their lives to the job.

The International Firefighter’s Day blue and red ribbon is symbolic of the traditional elements of their work – red for fire and blue for water.  Today’s professional career firefighters are highly trained and specialised to respond to a broad range of emergency incidents.  These include all fires (residential, industrial, commercial and rural), medical response to critical cases, vehicle accidents, maritime events, explosions, hazardous materials and leaks, extreme weather events, trench and confined space rescue, urban search and rescue, and rescue from heights.  Professional career firefighters promote fire safety, work with at-risk children and engage with the community to reduce fire risk.

The firefighters’ loved ones make great sacrifices with set rosters and leave meaning firefighters miss out on family events and holidays. Their families support the firefighter going to work knowing they could be deployed to a dynamic high risk incident which could result in injury, serious illness or worse.  Despite our constant vigilance in maintaining safe systems of work, for some the firefighter come home injured and for a few the firefighter did not come home from work at all.  Other families have watched their firefighter battle occupational injuries such as cancer or mental health issues.  Today we also acknowledge the support and sacrifices of those families.

Firefighters’ families are aware of the dangers and for children it can be particularly scary. 

Today the New Zealand Firefighters’ Welfare Society is launching a children’s book that recognises the fears a child might have when their loved one responds as a firefighter.  The Wolf Was Not Sleeping is written by Avril McDonald who is the award-winning author of the Feel Brave series.  The NZFFWS had an idea to promote a book that can initiate conversations within families of firefighters to talk about the worries the family may have and to understand there are safe systems of work to keep firefighters safe.  The book is a delightful story that can be heard at a special story-telling session by the author at 11.05am today on Channel 7.

It is intended that a free copy of the book will be sent to all FENZ personnel who express an interest in receiving one. Contact your direct line manager to get a copy. The book will also be available for public safe from online bookstores. To find out more go to

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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