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Proposed Fire Commission Revamp Unwise, Illegal

"Public safety seems to have taken a backseat to union lobbyists in a revamp of the Fire Service Commission," National's spokesperson on the Fire Service Lindsay Tisch said today.

Media reports say three new appointments are about to be made to the Commission - naming former unionists Angela Foulkes and Terry Scott, and former Army Chief of General Staff Piers Reid.

"If that proves correct then the interests of volunteers who make up 85 percent of New Zealand's firefighting resource will have been sacrificed in the Government's determination to pander to the interests of the 15 percent of firefighters who belong to the union," Mr Tisch said.

"Those union lobbyists have relentlessly pressured the Government to protect the cushy lifestyle which allows them to sleep on the job.

"The Government has foolishly given in to union pressure to remove the current Deputy Commissioner Brian Stanley - a highly respected man who was awarded the Queens Fire Service medal for 30 years volunteer service.

"The volunteers solidly backed Mr Stanley, who has been a Chief Fire Officer in both the Fire Service and in rural fire agencies. But he has been dropped.

"The only one of the three people mooted as new Commissioners with any fire background is Mr Scott, a former Labour Party deputy president who never rose higher than the equivalent rank of a sergeant in the armed forces.

"The end result would be that the new Commission would fail to satisfy the statutory requirement that at least one member must be skilled in either fire engineering or senior operational command.

"It is extremely important that the Commission maintain a focus on the improved management of fire risk," Lindsay Tisch said.

Ends


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