• Members are advised it is not in your interest to register an expression of interest as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Technical Competency Framework (now named Paearu Mahi) working parties.  If you have already done so we urge you to withdraw.
  • The NZPFU National Committee has grave concerns on the focus and direction of the framework in the context of Tranche 2 appointments, and FENZ’s decision to continue down a competency approach abandoning the robust and transparent framework which incorporates training, assessed qualifications and required years of experience.  
  • The NZPFU does not support the FENZ TCF Decisions or the working party process.   
  • The NZPFU will not support members selected as SMEs for the TCF working parties.   We will not support members being used as puppets to develop a framework that fails to ensure only appropriate trained, qualified and experience firefighters are in command and control on the incident ground.  


In mid December, FENZ released its decision document which sidesteps the principles of safe systems of work which is based on the foundations of training, assessed qualifications and required experience before being in command and control of emergency incidents.

The decision document sets up working parties that will develop the meat on the bones of a competency framework that places emphasis on managerial and behaviour skills over operational, technical and tactical knowledge.    

The decision document confirms that it is FENZ’s intention that the threshold of the competencies for Fire Commander and Assistance Fire Commander will be set very low.  It is the NZPFU’s strong view that this is to cement the appointments already made with the awarding of Commander ranks of personnel who do not have the training, assessed qualifications of experience sufficient to be in command and control of incidents including those requiring specialist response, or are complex and/or long-duration.

The qualities required to be awarded rank under the framework are listed below, and depending on whether the incident is regional or local, the required “standard” to be achieved varies from applied and highly competent to advanced under the following headings.

  • Builds resilience
  • Information management and insights
  • Manager risk
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Planning
  • Relationship management and engagement
  • Situational Awareness and decision-making
  • Technical knowledge and skills.

The Decision document again fails to recognise that emergency incidents can be complex without being large or of long duration, and that the Senior Officer has to have the training and experience to command all types of incidents at various alarm levels.  

The Decision document demonstrates there was no real intention to approach the consultation process with a genuine consideration of alternatives.  The Decision document largely ignores the comprehensive alternative framework developed by NZPFU and FECA SMEs, and key issues highlighted in the NZPFU submission

It is the NZPFU’s view the Decision document confirms FENZ intends to produce a no-fail leadership and managerial "soft skills" based competency framework to validate the appointments of unqualified and inexperienced personnel to Group and District Manager positions.  The list of qualities above confirms it is based on the very low bar CoRE application process and hidden behind a woefully pathetic foundational skills prerequisite for entry to the framework.

The foreseeable risk of having untrained, unqualified and inexperienced personnel in command and control is avoidable harm to the responding firefighters and the community they respond to.  The document does not put in place any protections to ensure only those qualified and experienced in the particular type of incident will be deployed as Senior Officers.  We are already seeing those from a rural background on Senior Rosters for the built environment. 

Despite the NZPFU representing the firefighters whose safety, health and lives will be on line under those awarded Commander Ranks, FENZ has refused to include NZPFU representatives on the working parties to develop the competency criteria to be awarded the ranks of Fire Commander and Assistant Fire Commander.  FENZ has decided to only call for expressions of interest from SME’s who will be selected by management.  There are no clear pre-requisites for qualifications and experience or what is considered a subject matter expert in this field.  This working party process allows FENZ to control the ultimate outcome.

This means that NZPFU members who would be genuine and valid SMEs would only be included in the working parties if selected by management.  NZPFU members would only be allowed to participate as an employee and not be able to participate with union representative status or protection, and therefore would be bound to continue down the party line regardless of the detriment to safe systems of work for firefighters.  In addition, FENZ intends those participating to do the estimated 6-8 hours a week on the working parties while maintaining their normal duties and without any additional recompense for the additional hours of work that will be incurred.

As SME’s will have little if any ability to influence the outcome, we see no merit in members being involved. 

The re-naming of the TCF is apt as FENZ is determined to remove all requirements for the usual independent measures of technical competency which include the pre-requisites of assessed qualifications with required years and scope of experience that can be independently verified.  

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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