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Fire services in for a “shake-up”

Media release

7 February 2013

Fire services in for a “shake-up”

Fire services in New Zealand are in for the biggest shake-up in 50 years if a report, released today, is implemented.

That’s the view of the United Fire Brigades Association, which represents the country’s volunteer brigades. It welcomes the report and looks forward to the recommendations being implemented.

“We think the Panel captured an accurate snap-shot of present fire and rescue services and has provided a blueprint for the future which volunteers will favour”.

“We are pleased to see the UFBA has been included as a consulting partner in recommendations on those measures which, particularly, affect future engagement, deployment and management of the country’s 12,000 volunteer fire-fighters”.

“We note that the report confirms that volunteer fire-fighters contributions are valued at about 100 million dollars each year, saying their efforts are critical to the country’s fire protection in provincial cities and smaller communities”.

“Their worth is further proven when statistics show these same volunteers respond to 80 per cent of all incidents, yet cost the Fire Service Commission just 7 per cent of its total budget”.

“Fire-fighters everywhere will welcome the recommendation for a law change giving them a mandate to carry out non-fire duties such as rescues, extrications from crashed vehicles, dealing with hazardous materials and medical calls, all of which they are presently carrying out without legal authority”.

Similarly the Association supports limited liability for firefighters, indemnifying them if something goes wrong while they are acting in good faith.

“Volunteer fire-fighters also welcome the prospect of closer liaison and improved coordination between emergency services, especially the establishment of a joint Chief Executives Forum which would meet regularly to collaborate on the delivery of emergency services”.

“The Panel’s attention to numerous matters concerning volunteer firefighters is appreciated by the UFBA, especially its recommendations that the New Zealand Fire Service appoints a senior executive to interact with volunteers, that a sustainability programme for volunteers is bolstered and that engagement with volunteers should be put on a par with career fire-fighters”.

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