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Abuse of volunteer firefighters is not acceptable

Media Release


Abuse of volunteer firefighters is not acceptable

Wellington, Thursday 14 December 2017 – On Sunday 10 December, a group of youths threw bottles at a Tuakau Volunteer Fire Brigade fire appliance when the firefighters were returning from helping Pukekohe Volunteer Fire Brigade fight a fire.

UFBA Chief Executive Officer Bill Butzbach says this kind of behaviour from members of the public is not acceptable. “Our firefighters voluntarily give up their time to protect lives and properties in their local communities.

“As well as responding to structure fires, volunteers now resolve a high proportion (63-68%), of all road crash rescue, urgent medical, vegetation fires and weather-related incidents. They do not deserve to be treated with such disrespect.

“In 2015 the UFBA sought an independent professional valuation of the services provided by our 12,000 fire and emergency volunteers—the value is around $530 million per annum. This is effectively the annual sum of the sacrifices, trade-offs and earning opportunities foregone by volunteers, their families and employers.

“The UFBA appreciates how the Tuakau community has rallied around their volunteer firefighters following this incident. We are positive most New Zealanders recognise the value of volunteers’ contributions.”

Volunteering New Zealand Chief Executive Scott Miller (and UFBA Board Director) says volunteers often need to put themselves in the face of harm in the service of others but this type of senseless activity has the potential to deter both new and existing volunteers.

“This aberrant behaviour compromises not only the volunteers—it also compromises the wellbeing of communities throughout New Zealand.

“This is why Volunteering New Zealand and the UFBA fully recognise the resilience and impact our volunteer workforce contributes on a daily basis."

About the United Fire Brigade’s Association

The United Fire Brigade’s Association (UFBA) represents the interests of 540 fire brigades and rural fire forces throughout the country, comprising more than 12,000 firefighters. Members consist of volunteer, paid, urban, rural, industry and defence brigades, with 80% being volunteers. www.ufba.org.nz

About Volunteering New Zealand

Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ) is an association of national volunteer-involving organisations that have a commitment to volunteering. Their mission is to maximise the impact of volunteering in our communities. www.volunteeringnz.org.nz

UFBA and Volunteering New Zealand signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 27 October 2017 to record the intention of both parties to work collaboratively to benefit volunteers and volunteerism in New Zealand.


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