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New fire service to be developed

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs
29 May 2006

New fire service to be developed

The future shape and funding of the nation’s fire and rescue services will be the focus of a workshop Internal Affairs Minister, Rick Barker, is planning.

Addressing the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigades’ Association annual conference in Dargaville, Mr Barker said he wants to engage with key stakeholders to consider the ideas that have come from consultations in the past two years.

“There are two reasons for change,” Mr Barker said. “Thirty-year-old fire legislation is outdated and is focussed almost solely on fire, rather than a wider rescue role. And our system of fire management is not well suited to our future needs.

”The system is also unfair from a funding viewpoint. We need to try and make it fairer.”

The workshop will draw on information from public consultations in 2005 about the functions and structure of fire and rescue services.

Core propositions on the table for the workshop will include:
o More integrated services, bringing together New Zealand’s rural Fire Authorities and the New Zealand Fire Service Commission
o The functions to be integrated would include oversight of all aspects of fire risk and a clear responsibility to attend non-fire incidents
o A single new brigade structure, accommodating both urban and rural fire and rescue workers
o Legal protection for all fire and rescue workers when carrying out their duties, and when properly trained
o
o Strong links to regional civil defence groups
“One organisation could assure us of a consistent approach to the standards and levels of services provided,” Mr Barker said.

“ Changes in the past have been made because of tragedies, such as the 1947 Ballantyne’s fire in Christchurch involving heavy loss of life.

“It’s much better to think about changes when we’re not responding to a tragedy.

“We need a service that is better suited to the future and builds on our present strengths.”

Ends

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