Members are advised that once again Auckland is faced with a reduced heavy aerial response and capabilities due to mechanical breakages of the current fleet, as per an operational instruction sent to some Officers in Area 4:

Situation:

  • Auckland 205, Type 6, is out of commission at present due to mechanical fault. Time frame unknown at this stage.
  • The crew is riding relief appliance Auckland 201.
  • Relief TTL is OOC, suffered damage while being used during the prison fire last week and is awaiting a new windscreen to arrive from abroad.
  • Whilst this situation is not ideal the following instructions need to be adhered to so as to help ensure Parnell 255, Bronto heavy aerial, remains on the run for when we might really need it.
Instructions:

  • There is to be no training or drill with Parnell 255 until the TTL or Auckland 205 is returned to service. 
  • Officers are reminded that Parnell 255 will only be responded on the 1st alarm to confirmed fires or if Comcen receives additional information like confirming 111 call or additional alarm activations.
  • Officers are not to request an aerial response to Sprinkler Investigations, PFAs, PMAs or Investigation (MIN) calls unless there is, at any time, additional information received of an actual fire.
  • Parnell 255 may respond to purple medical calls within Parnell’s response zones if 251 is unavailable.

This is a repeat of the situation from July last year where another breakdown resulted in a reduced heavy aerial capability and response in Auckland (NTM - 24th July 2020, Auckland Heavy Aerial Capability and Response).

The Local has once again written to Auckland Central Area Management advising them that we do not support this operational instruction and that we will continue to remind our members that they should call for an aerial appliance if in their opinion it will be of benefit.

“A priority message requesting the attendance of one (a Heavy Aerial) shall immediately be transmitted if, in an Officer’s opinion, such appliance could be of benefit to them for ANY operational response reason. 

For the health and safety of our members and the members of the public and operational efficiency, the Auckland Local strongly suggests to Officers, that if responding to a first alarm in the Central Business District Area; or any other building or incident that an aerial could be a benefit to a successful outcome, and that an aerial is not on the turnout, that one is immediately called for by means of a priority message. This decision is made solely to ensure the safety and wellbeing of firefighters and the public.”

These are serious health and safety matters and Officer’s using their training and experience (and common sense), should follow the above advice.  These changes have massive implications on the safety of not only firefighters but the members of the public of Auckland.  The timing of the arrival of an aerial can be critical for both rescue and operational response tactics.

We are now 15 months after the devastating fire of the International Convention Centre, and only weeks after the major fires at Ponsonby Intermediate and St Stephens Church also in Ponsonby, where the rapid response and arrival of the heavy aerial appliances were instrumental in saving the historic landmark (NTM - 7th Dececember 2020, Aerial Firefighting Appliances save historic landmark).

Despite proposed reviews, FENZ has still made no improvements to the state of the heavy aerial fleet in New Zealand, with a National Aerial strategy still not having been agreed to and implemented, nor a timeframe for the replacement of ageing heavy aerial fleet presented. This lack of immediate action is causing critical safety and wellbeing issue for firefighters and the public of Auckland and the rest of the country.

Once again it seems that FENZ is being run, as recently quoted by the Chief Executive at the NZPFU National Conference, “on the smell of an oily rag”. 

The priorities of FENZ towards spending seems to be misguided and not aligned to any evidence-based conclusions, with millions allocated to the rebuild of fire stations serving tiny communities responding to a dozen incidents a year, whilst New Zealand’s largest metropolitan city is under-funded and serviced, in both fire appliance fleet and staffing.

We will keep members informed as any updates to this critical situation come to hand.

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