Treed cats face uncertain future as Fire Service comes under review
Aug. 9 (BusinessDesk) - Firefighters are fulfilling community demands they're not funded for and are overlapping with other emergency services, the government says in terms of reference for a review of the activities and funding of the New Zealand Fire Service.
The fire service is the latest part of the public service to face fundamental scrutiny, with Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain announcing a formal review of the $325 million a year operation.
The review excludes the "industrial relations framework" for the often fractious fire service workforce, but appears not to preclude recommendations on its size and composition.
Also off the table is the separate management of fire on forest and rural lands by rural fire authorities.
However, the review panel can recommend whether and to what extent the fire service should remain funded by insurance levies.
A final report by early December on “how New Zealand can have a 21st century fire service which operates seamlessly with the roles performed by other emergency service providers.”
“The panel will also consider options for how fire services can be governed and structured to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible," said Tremain in a statement.
“Finally, the review will assess future options for funding of the fire service. Funding needs to be stable, equitable and predictable. Improvements need to be made to the current model, which is based on an insurance-based levy."
The terms of reference say one of the fire service's biggest problems is its ad hoc development of capabilities extending beyond fire services, in response to community demand.
"Formal accountability for functions performed by the fire services does not match operational reality," the terms of reference say. "Some of the activities they perform overlap with those of other emergency service providers.
The service's activities will be put alongside those of ambulance services, rescue organisations, and civil defence arrangements, to identify gaps and overlaps.