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Bringing our firefighters together

Fire and Emergency New Zealand - Bringing our firefighters together

Fire and Emergency New Zealand - which is bringing together New Zealand’s rural, urban, career and volunteer firefighters of 40 organisations into a new single organisation - comes into force on 1 July.

New Zealand Fire Service Commission chair Paul Swain says that the new organisation will give New Zealand’s firefighters the support they need to protect and help prepare their communities now and into the future.

"Our firefighters are highly respected and trusted and do a great job already, but their roles are changing all the time. Firefighters once just focused on fire. Now they do a lot more, responding to motor vehicle crashes, medical emergencies, hazardous materials spillages, storms, floods, earthquakes and a wide range of rescue situations. [ http://fenzproject.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/media-factsheet-day-one-1.pdf ]

"In addition to the ongoing fire risk and these extra demands, there are more extreme weather events with greater frequency, and the population is ageing and changing. The work we do and how we approach it is constantly evolving."

Updated legislation [ https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/fire-and-emergency-new-zealand-bill-passes-third-reading ] provides firefighters with the appropriate powers to do their jobs. Firefighters will now be funded for all this work, and not just firefighting.

"There will be no disruption to current services, and preventing and responding to emergencies will always be our number one priority. Our trucks will continue to roll out as normal and people should still call 111 in an emergency.

"We’re bringing more than 14,000 people from 40 different organisations into one - more than 11,300 volunteers and 2,800 career firefighters and support staff - so everyone has equitable access to funding, equipment and the support they need to meet their community’s needs.

"The changes recognise the vital roles of volunteer and career firefighters, and the importance of community, while addressing long standing issues such as the variable funding of rural fire operations.

"These are the biggest changes in decades so we are focused on getting it right. We will work with our people, including their representative unions and associations, and our partners over the next three years as we integrate into one, unified organisation."

Former Chief of Defence Force, Rhys Jones, is Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s first Chief Executive. Paul McGill is the National Commander of Urban Fire and Emergency operations and Kevin O’Connor is the National Manager of Rural Fire and Emergency operations. [ http://www.fire.org.nz/Media/News/2017/Pages/Key_appointments_made_for_new_FENZ_organisation.html ]

Mr Swain said the aim is to gradually integrate existing urban and rural structures over the next three years to provide a world-leading, integrated, well co-ordinated and resourced organisation delivering reliable service across New Zealand which:

- reduces unwanted fires;

- responds to fires and emergencies whenever and wherever they occur across the country;

- works with communities so that they are ready and prepared for whatever comes their way; and

- helps communities recover quickly from emergencies.

"This is an exciting and important time for fire and emergency services in New Zealand. I want to thank our people for their contribution to get us to this significant milestone and look forward to working with them all as we move on to integration," says Paul Swain.

To find out more about the transition to Fire and Emergency New Zealand, visit www.fenzproject.co.nz or www.fireandemergency.nzfrom 1 July.


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