The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union has serious concerns for the public safety of residents and ratepayers of Auckland’s North Shore.

Fire Service Management has put in place on a daily basis, a system of moving fire appliances and their crews away from the North Shore to the Rodney/Orewa area to provide a fire engine and a firefighting crew to maintain coverage in that location.

“This is an extremely serious risk to public safety” said Union Vice President Athol Conway. “Not only is public safety and ratepayers and residents’ property in jeopardy, but so too is firefighters’ safety because of Management’s ludicrous decisions”, he said.

Mr Conway stated “since this process of either moving a fire engine from Takapuna or Devonport or East Coast Bays Fire Station commenced on Monday, there has already been one serious fire in the Belmont suburb yesterday, that went unattended by the normal Devonport crew as it was out of the district helping to maintain cover in other parts of the North Shore because of the appliance movements to the Rodney/Orewa area”

Mr Conway said that the Union has raised the matter with the Fire Service and maintains that coverage must remain at the normal level for the North Shore and suitable arrangements need to be made in the Rodney/Orewa area.

The reason the Fire Service has no current coverage at the Silverdale Station is because three out of the four staff who would normally be stationed there have been moved from the station because of serious concerns over their safety. The New Zealand Fire Service has identified working at this station as a “risk station”. This has come about because of on-going conflict by volunteer staff at the Silverdale Station towards professional firefighters.

It is understood that an internal investigation has found …that the professional firefighters crew at Silverdale are in a mental risk situation accentuated by their hyper-vigilance towards volunteer activities both operationally and around station. This behaviour has become a key focus on their day and subsequently this obsession has affected their psychological safety.

“It is for this reason that the professional firefighters normally stationed at Silverdale were transferred out”, Mr Conway said. “The Firefighters Union has identified that it is a significant risk to our members’ mental state working under such conditions at Silverdale and for that reason believe until such time as concerns are addressed, manning will be an on-going problem at Silverdale”, he said.

Mr Conway said “regardless of the reasons behind the manning situation at Silverdale, it is totally inappropriate that North Shore residents’ fire cover and safety is compromised.”

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