To whom it may (and should) concern,

The failure of Tauranga 712’s engine on Tuesday has, once again, highlighted the mismanagement of our local FENZ operational fleet. This is to the detriment to the safety of both the Tauranga FENZ Career Professional, Volunteer staff and the public and industry to which we are tasked with protecting.

Tauranga, the fifth largest and fastest growing city in the country, is on its best day, in our opinion, well under resourced for the growing risks we are mandated to protect. We cover the largest range of petrochemical industry and New Zealands’ busiest export Port, whilst also ensuring the safety of a burgeoning residential population. This under resourcing is when we are at our best!

Currently, of the 7 frontline pumping appliances we rely on, only 4 are in a condition which we can reasonably expect to reliably operate. Both Mt Maunganui appliances, a type 3 and a type 4 are totally unreliable, with staff having no confidence in their ongoing operation. A plan has been presented for a swap with a more suitable Type 4, however commitment to a definite timeline is needed. Both Tauranga 712 and Region 208 require extensive engine rebuilds. A mechanic, when questioned, has expressed no confidence in them being able to safely perform as required, for their intended purpose as a frontline emergency vehicle.

We have been vociferously pushing our concerns through both Local and Regional Managers in regards to the dangers our organisation are allowing to continue day after day, and asking them to plead for appropriate changes on our behalf. We would have thought that last years fleet failure and resultant catastrophic loss of property and risk to life of operational staff at the Manukau Campervan centre fire, would have finally bought home the real and present danger of ongoing Fleet mismanagement.

Obviously these lessons have not been learned and we, as an organisation seem doomed to repeat them. Are we to be next, is it our staff whose life is to be risked this time.

The Tauranga Local will not sit by and accept the mediocrity of Fleet Management we have come to expect as normal with the resultant risk to the safety of our staff. It is a fashionable joke to our front line staff that everyone in the organisation seems to have a new ute, but we, the very people who are the public face of our “Emergency Service” are expected to make do with clapped out 25-year old war horses.

It is imperative that any appliances taken offline for maintenance be replaced with a fit for purpose and defect free replacement. This will not only include pumping appliances but Aerial and Hazmat appliances as well. We rely on these appliances for our safety at incidents and they should be replaced with a relief appliance that offers at least an equal capability, as opposed to constantly losing our ability to respond for days on end. Anything less should be seen an abdication of responsibility for those that decide otherwise.

Our operational staff are the ones bearing the risk to their safety of years of poor decisions and Managers that seem to be incapable of managing or calling to account those that can't. We feel that the very people that are employed to support frontline service delivery are “Fiddling whilst Rome burns” and arguing legal responsibilities instead of the pragmatic solution of fixing the situation and arguing later.

Lives should be what is protected, not egos.

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