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Minister gives reassurance about Fire Service

Thu, 24 Feb 2005

Minister gives reassurance about Fire Service

The Minister Responsible for the Fire Service Commission, Mark Burton reassurs New Zealand communities that there is no agenda to reduce appliance or service coverage in isolated rural stations, or anywhere else.

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The Minister Responsible for the Fire Service Commission, Mark Burton is reassuring New Zealand communities that there is no agenda to reduce appliance or service coverage in isolated rural stations, or anywhere else. "On the contrary, work is being undertaken to ensure that there is a comprehensive service delivery system, including, for the first time, a nationwide fleet management plan" said Mark Burton.

The New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) is in the process of developing a planning tool which will allow it, for the first time, to examine all resources nationally in order to develop an up to date service delivery plan to best meet the needs of differing communities across New Zealand. The national fleet management strategy will be one facet of this much broader strategic plan.

As part of this strategic planning the NZFS is currently examining delivery targets for the major categories of incident the NZFS attends and relating these to incident history and existing resources.

"The intended outcome of all of this will be a modern fire and rescue service with a much closer alignment between resource and need which ensures that every community will receive at least an equal and preferably an improved level of service.

"Indeed, I have recently sought, and received, assurances from the Chair of the Board of the New Zealand Fire Service Commission, Dame Margaret Bazely and the national Fire Commander, that any proposed future developments within the Service will provide equal or better risk management in New Zealand communities" said Mark Burton.

"The fact is, the NZFS existing standards of service delivery relate to fire only, and are based on a now outdated UK model. "We require an increasingly diverse range of capabilities from our fire service. For example NZFS has to deliver a service that includes: · Motor vehicle accidents - extraction of victims, fire management, road cleaning etc · General rescue situations such as industrial accidents, high angle rescue, trench collapses etc. · Hazardous materials incidents both fixed and mobile · The provision of New Zealand's three Urban Search and Rescue task forces, · Medical assist and cardiac arrest calls (many appliances now carry Automatic External Defibrillators) · A wide variety of civil defence situations caused by flooding and high winds. · Calls of a general assistance nature for which the Fire Service has an equipment, training and resource capacity.

It is therefore important that the fire service manages all of its human and physical resources within a modern management framework. It is within this context that the NZFS, responsible for a fleet of over 800 vehicles, will for the first time bring these under one management plan so that they can be replaced as necessary, and so that every community can be assured that they will have the right vehicles in the right places at the right time.

Further Q & A attached

NZ Fire Service Commission Q and A relating to the Fire Service Fleet Management Strategy

Why is the Fire Service changing the way it plans and delivers services?

The New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) now has a much wider role in New Zealand's emergency management framework.

This wider role includes:

· Motor vehicle accidents - extraction of victims, fire management, road cleaning etc · General rescue situations such as industrial accidents, high angle rescue, trench collapses etc. · Hazardous materials incidents both fixed and mobile · The provision of New Zealand's three Urban Search and Rescue task forces, · Medical assist and cardiac arrest calls (many appliances now carry Automatic External Defibrillators) · A wide variety of civil defence situations caused by flooding and high winds. · Calls of a general assistance nature for which the Fire Service has an equipment, training and resource capacity.

The NZFS's existing standards of service delivery relate to fire only and are based on a UK model which is out of date.

The NZFS has an annual budget of $300m with over 800 vehicles. It is important that it manages it resources in a modern and professional way.

What is the fleet management strategy?

The fleet management strategy is a subset of a much broader strategic plan to develop a comprehensive service model.

The fleet strategy will consist of: · A stocktake and evaluation of all vehicles in all stations (volunteer and career) · A community risk assessment · A management plan to ensure that all communities have the appropriate vehicles in place and that there is a plan to manage maintenance and replacement.

What has been done so far?

Preliminary work on listing (for the first time) all vehicles with an initial assessment of their age, condition and suitability has been undertaken.

Further work will take place once the comprehensive service delivery model is developed.

This is some way off.

Will the vehicle mix in all locations always remain the same?

No.

It may be the case in some locations that a need for new types of appliances and equipment mix more closely matched to local requirements is identified. Any such change would be the result of close discussion with local stations and communities.

What about the documents tabled in Parliament by an Opposition MP?

Previous documents produced by the NZFS in respect of potential fleet management directions are now obsolete and should be disregarded.

The documents in question, now some months out of date, were openly discussed in each Region by the Regional Operating Committee (ROC) comprising representatives of the paid and volunteer arms of the Service.

In summary:

· The new planning model for the NZ Fire Service is in its early stages of development
· It will determine priorities for training, personnel and equipment including replacement of aging vehicle stock
· It will ensure that the right vehicles are in the right places and given replacement order of priority
· It is designed to ensure the best possible service across NZ communities.

ENDS

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