President's Blog: Heads up 3

44 days in, the emails have grown exponentially as have the phone calls and the sleep has decreased! It is most certainly a busy but productive time!

In my first 2 blogs, I’ve talked about behaviours and values and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about Respect. Respect comes up time and time again when I talk to the members, and in my own time on the trucks I have observed respect in my colleagues – in the way in which they engaged with the public but also with each other, I certainly hope it is a core value for all Professional Career Firefighters. One thing I feel is missing during this current Target Operating Model workload and workstreams is respect and recognition for Career Firefighters who now make up just over 10% of our total organisation.

Whilst I acknowledge that volunteers are an invaluable part of our organisation, one we rely on heavily in rural and outlying areas, it seems as though we are forgotten, the silent minority that goes about our work quietly and professionally. Career fire fighters are contributing in huge ways to the safety of New Zealanders and indeed contributing to training, development and safety of volunteers who we often work collaboratively with at incidents. Yes, it’s our job, we get paid, but it’s also the job of management to recognise this contribution and responsibility. Career firefighters have always had a strong commitment to training, upskilling, responding, qualifications, keeping appliances on the run, maintaining operational equipment, etc. It’s important that this is acknowledged by management and I will be working to make sure that Professional Career Firefighters (without ever detracting from the work and contribution of our Volunteer colleagues), are recognised and more importantly, respected for all of our contributions to FENZ and the public of New Zealand.

Continuing the theme of respect, the National Committee met with the new Auckland Local last week. A first step to re building trust, relationships and respect with each other. The delays in getting the newer members on the Auckland local are long forgotten and we have appreciated the respect and strength of their senior leaders who I have dealt with almost daily. Their workloads and efforts with phone calls, emails and the issues around the Auckland local exemplifies where we as union members, newer or older, need to be.

In the last week the Auckland Local and the National Committee have been working to finalise the joint statement around the meeting last week, Operating Principles/MOU and a statement regarding the return of Sulu Devoe and John Waldow. A lot of collaboration has gone into this forward-looking document, and I anticipate a strong working relationship with Auckland local and its members in the future.

I will be sending out our own NZPFU operating principles/MOU to all Local Secretaries for their consideration and agreement.This agreement which will define the way Locals and National Committee will work, collaborate and support each other.Please take some time to review these and make sure they are fit for purpose, these are formation documents that are critical to our functioning and it is critical we have local input.

From an organisational perspective, workloads and opportunities for NZPFU SME’s and Reps are increasing with a new load of low level design work on the back of the TOM consultation.Our input into this FENZ work is critical, particularly at these early stages, where our people are logic checking consultants work, making sure that what they thought they heard is in fact factual and indeed helpful for the development of the future organisational model.It is in these areas that we can functionally make a difference and actually influence so I really encourage any of you with skills and interests in these areas to put your hand up for these roles.

Peter Hallett has recently stepped up to be our SME for risk reduction activities and all things relating to that part of the workforce. Peter is hugely knowledgeable and respected across the organisation and will be able to fill in the blanks, make sure the connections are all made across to the other workstreams too.

We are still looking for more representatives in the wider operating model work streams and particularly around the people and capability side. We are looking for some well-qualified and experienced members who may wish to assist the development of the organisational design, and influence that future design and direction. It’s critically important we are across this detail and working with Blair Kiely, Peter Hallett and Roy Breeze (FECA) will ensure Urban Career firefighters are better represented and indeed respected in this “new organisation”. Please advise your Local Secretary and / or the office of your interest.

I have just sent out the MOU with St John’s which is up for consultation and comment. I have asked Local Secretaries to provide names and contact details of any SME’s around the country to assist us in formulating our position and comments on the MOU to send back to FENZ and ultimately St John’s. I know we have some very experienced and well qualified members (ex-Ambos even!) in this area so, please contact your Local Secretary if you are in a position to contribute to this important and meaningful work.

Norm, Derek and I attended the UFUA conference in Hobart about 2 weeks ago, the report on that conference is available for download here.

Speaking finally of respect, it was a great privilege to attend this conference when the UFUA bestowed Honorary Membership of their Union to Derek Best. He was presented with a framed certificate and a solid brass helmet to commemorate his service and the event.

We are all extremely excited about Wattie starting on the 10th December 2018. I can report she is equally excited about her move back home and to be the only Woman National Secretary of a firefighters Union in the world.

Regards and stay safe

Ian Wright
New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union


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