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Volunteer fire fighters have nothing to fear

Volunteer fire fighters have nothing to fear from health and safety changes

The country’s volunteer fire brigades and fire fighters have nothing to fear from changes proposed under the Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said today.

“Volunteer fire brigades are provided with equipment, protective clothing and training. This suggests the requirement of the Act, that all practicable steps are taken to ensure fire fighters’ health and safety on the job, are almost certainly already being met.”

Margaret Wilson said the Bill is not about prosecution of volunteers or the organisations who use them, but about providing them with health and safety protections.

“The work and well-being of volunteers is as important as that of employees and this is what the Bill recognises.”

Margaret Wilson said volunteer fire fighters are legally protected from liability should someone be injured in the line of duty while trying to save a life.

“The Act specifically provides that no offence is committed where an employee, and in this case a volunteer, takes any action necessary for the protection of a person and that action causes harm to that person.”

It is important to note that in the 10 years the Health and Safety in Employment Act has been in force no professional fire fighter has ever been prosecuted, Margaret Wilson said.

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