Loafers Lodge Anniversary and criminal trial update


The NZPFU has been in discussions with FENZ management to ensure our members are supported and appropriately assisted through the upcoming Loafers Lodge Anniversary and the criminal trial.  Below are the issues we have discussed. If there are other issues members are facing or individual circumstances they can also be accommodated on a case by case basis.  We are confident that FENZ is focused on the wellbeing of our members and to ensure our members are appropriately released and supported through the criminal trial.  

We have asked that FENZ ensure that wellbeing support is offered and followed through over the next couple of weeks pending the anniversary of the fire, post the anniversary and throughout the upcoming criminal trial.  We have been clear that offering support is not just a statement at the bottom of emails and communications, and that the EAP/Vitae counselling service is NOT appropriate in these circumstances.  Support can mean a range of practical measures to assist members getting through this period and of course includes access to psychological care.

We ask all Wellington Local members to be mindful that we will have a number of members affected in coming weeks and months and to be aware and supportive if individuals are demonstrating changes in their behaviour and stress levels.  No one needs to feel isolated or that they are dealing with the repercussions of the fatal fire on their own. If you need support and do not know how to access it please contact your local or national NZPFU representatives or ask someone to do that for you.   We are also mindful that some NZPFU representatives responded to the fire and therefore are not expecting them to be responsible for supporting other members during this time.  

May 16th anniversary

Blue watch which was rostered on at the time of the Loafers Lodge fire is again rostered on but on day shift.  There were also members on overtime who may again be working on the day or night of the 16th.   We understand for many of you this will be difficult given there will be again widespread media interest. Everyone will deal with this in their own way but again the union can be the link in ensuring members access the support they need.

The Wellington City Council is also holding a memorial event from 6am and FENZ will be providing more information on that event shortly.

For those NZPFU members that responded to the Loafers Lodge fire (firefighters, fire investigators, comms centre dispatchers) to Loafers Lodge and are rostered to work on the 16th but do not want to work as they want to attend the public memorial,  or cannot face work that day because of the anniversary,  you do not need to battle on.  Members can request to be released and have the day off without loss of pay or leave.  We respectfully ask other members who did not attend to support their colleagues by working the shift if requested and practicable to do so.   Any issues please get your manager to contact Nick Pyatt.

Criminal trial – set down from 5 August but those dates could change for range of reasons

We also have a number of members who have been, or will be summonsed to appear at the criminal trial.  

  • Being summonsed to appear can be stressful in itself but does not necessarily mean everyone who receives a summons will be required to appear as a witness. Until you are notified otherwise you need to prepare for being called as a witness. Appearing at the criminal trial for the death of 5 people will be very challenging even though their evidence is solely about the emergency response or the work undertaken at the site post the fire.  It is a very serious and formal process that will be unfamiliar to many.
  • The NZPFU has instructed lawyers to assist and support any members who have informed they are to be summonsed or asked to be interviewed by Police.  On our instruction the lawyers are also in contact with the Prosecutor to get as much information about the upcoming trial as it becomes available. These lawyers will also be supporting any members that ultimately are called as witnesses.  If you have received an email notifying you will be summonsed and want support and assistance please contact the NZPFU to be linked in.    They are different lawyers to those that drafted the affidavits for our members.  
  • Once Police have confirmed who will actually be needed as witnesses there will be familiarisation sessions for those that wish to participate. Those sessions will include information on the process including expectations of witnesses, familiarisation visit to the court to understand who sits where in the court, how to behave and how to deal with other pressures including media presence.
  • If a member has to meet with police at any point for anything to do with the trial including preparation for the trial, you will be paid for that time.  If the member is on duty you notify your manager and you will be released without loss of wages or leave.  If the member is off-duty or the meeting/preparation/hearing  goes over rostered hours the usual overtime provisions apply.
  • If a member is called to be a witness they will be released from the night before the day they are requested to be at the court (without loss of pay or leave) and will be paid for the period required at court including overtime for non-rostered hours. 
  • Members will wear station blues (not the service uniform) to any court hearing.
  • After appearing as a witness at the hearing the member can request paid time off if they do not feel they can return to work on their usual roster or duties.  This will be implemented for wellness reasons and to recognise fatigue resulting from preparing and attending court in addition to usual work and responsibilities.  
  • Members appearing as witnesses  will be asked if their families need any additional support or any other assistance.
  • The NZPFU will ensure members will be supported in and out of the courtroom but if approached by media or the public they are advised to not answer at all or at most say no comment.
  • Any particular situation/expenses/issues for attending the court hearing will be dealt with on a case by case basis.
  • If members have any issues with overtime/time off or any other case by case issues/expenses etc incurred in this process that issue should be raised to Nick Pyatt (who was present at the meeting where these matters were decided) and to let the Local or National union know.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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