President's Blog: Heads up 18

No doubt it has been challenging times of late and I will admit to struggling to find something positive to share, hence the lengthy delay since my last blog.  There are many challenges ahead of us and making our voice heard and influencing in this environment is daunting, but I have been encouraged by the quality and quantity of members who are continually stepping up across the organisation to ensure that the views of career fire fighters are not lost. 

There are a number of projects underway that the NZPFU are involved in, the competency framework which is attempting to accommodate rural trained people into urban operations. We have some great people involved in this including our lead (Norm) Graeme Gilroy as well as our SME’s Alan Collett, Len Sabin, Chris Lind, James Martin-Bond, Blair Kiely and the Union Council. The fleet issues including aerials, led by Peter Harwood and Clarke Townsley and supported by the aerial SME group of Sulu Devoe, Alban Osborne, Mark Leonard, Adam Wright, Terry Bird, Martin Campbell and Aaron McKay. Live Fire training, our lead is Norm supported by Josh Nicholls, Aaron McKay and Shane O’Brien with Auckland about to be built and ALC reps have had an early introduction into their Live fire facility. The Women’s network have been very hard at work re writing and producing an extremely comprehensive and practical guideline to support pregnancy and parental leave for operational firefighters. This is an important and overdue piece of work providing guidance for managers and firefighters around how we better support our people and their families.

We have reps and SME’s across a vast rage of FENZ activities and to give clarity to members we have collated a list of who’s responsible for what projects, who is contributing on our behalf as SME’s, from swift water rescue, to gas detectors to recruitment. It has been a long time coming and we will continue to monitor and update as necessary. This list will be available on our website.

I am excited to see a few new faces around the country step up into elected official roles, and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Sean McAvinue from Taupo, Mike Manning from Napier/Hastings and Rob Appleton from Nelson for all the hard work you’ve done for our members over the past years, I’d also like to welcome David Phillips into Secretary for Taupo, James Keenan into President for Hawkes Bay and Matthew Shearer as secretary of Nelson. It takes a lot of personal time to be an elected official of a Local and we really appreciate you all stepping up and it’s good to know you have some very experienced branch members to contact anytime you need some advice!

We are busily preparing for our annual National Conference being held in Wellington this year at the Mercure Abel Tasman from 7th till the 9th December. Feel free to call in and say hi and listen in on what is going on. We will be undertaking some professional development for our reps in terms of handling disputes and disagreements and contractual entitlements. We are also meeting the ELT (Executive Leadership Team) on Wednesday morning for a panel Q and A which should be interesting. It is certainly appreciated that we can finally sit down with the entire ELT and ask and discuss the many pressing issues in the organisation now and coming up. We have invited the Wellington based Life Honorary members of the Union to a function one of the evenings so will be good to catch up with them and further recognise their contributions. We have a number of rule changes we wish to propose and your elected reps will be engaging on, nothing major, just improving our representation model at our National Conference and National Committee level. We are also planning a bargaining session for the 2021 contract negotiations with the conference.

We have been looking at learning possibilities for our reps, we will continue to look for opportunities to further our knowledge and training. In the past few months, some of the National Committee have attended a short course on organisational finances which provided good insights into analysis tools and some very good workshop work.

One positive has been the time connecting with members through our travels post lockdown.  It has been a privilege to attend Local AGM’s and chat to so many members on the ground. Despite the turbulent times, members are still very vocal and not backward in coming forward. I’ve always said if you want to know how to run a fire (emergency) service just ask any firefighter and they will have plenty of ideas!

To all those firefighters who are on duty over the festive season, to the families of those firefighters, thank you very much, it’s never easy being away from loved ones and I hope you manage to take the opportunity to involve family on station for lunch or dinner or present opening as happened at my station a few years ago with one firefighter and their children! I know we have had many family lunches over Christmas at my stations, it’s a great time to bring everyone together, all in the same boat to meet each other’s second families. It is certainly my view that it’s something that we should be doing on a more regular basis, interacting with our wider primary and secondary families, just like the old days!

Wishing you and you families a safe and festive season.

As always, stay safe.

Ian Wright

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