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Union Invites Fire Chief to Undergo Test

Union Invites Fire Chief to Undergo Test

Firefighters Investigate Other Top Appointments and Old Boys Culture

The Union representing firefighters still has serious safety concerns for both firefighting staff and members of the public because of the failure of a senior operational commander to meet the minimum competency standard.

NZ Professional Firefighters Union Auckland Local President Jeff McCulloch says his members are perplexed that all other staff members are required to be operationally physically competent, yet it seems the same rules based around good health and safety practices are being ignored or swept under the carpet for one individual and placing the public and firefighters under his command at risk.

If NZ Fire Service management says the “officer could easily pass the test if he had to” - as Auckland’s Fire Region Commander Brian Butt claims, then he should be required to undergo the test. If he satisfactorily passes, firefighters concerns can be put to rest with regards to his physical competency. This does not however, allay fears over his operational competency, as command & control procedures and training have advanced considerably since this individual was operational in 1996.

As with the physical competency testing of all firefighters nationwide, a senior manager is present throughout the test and the Union sees no reason, because of the controversy surrounding serious safety concerns of this individual’s competency, that a Union Official should not be present.

Mr McCulloch says “this is a serious matter related to trust and confidence in Fire Service management and it appears that some of the old cracks of special treatment, and rules for some and not others are starting to appear again.”

McCulloch said that this type of activity was prevalent under the national government in the mid-90’s, and it appears that we are heading back down that road where firefighters on fire engines are again under threat and having their safety, and the safety of the public compromised.

The Union is also investigating matters relating to other recent appointments in Auckland which have not been advertised for all staff to apply for. Clearly, “a job for the boy’s culture remains strong in the Auckland Fire Service” says Mr McCulloch.

The Firefighters Union wonders why Auckland’s Fire Service is prepared to totally ignore National Commander Mike Hall’s instruction and NZ Fire Service policy which requires all operational staff successfully complete the physical competency assessment. Even the Fire Service’s own recruitment website advertises such requirements.

The Union believes assurances that missing Puhoi Tunnel and South Eastern Highway Fire Zones will be restored within 4-days time, like many other assurances concerning safety standards, will not be honoured.

ENDS

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