Welcome to the first issue of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bulletin. As we get closer to the establishment of Fire and Emergency New Zealand on 1 July, this information sheet will provide you with more detail on transition topics mentioned in the Board Update (available on our website). Please feel free to print and pass it on. If you have any questions or comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On track for 1 July
Over 14,000 people and 40 organisations will come together in Fire and Emergency New Zealand from 1 July 2017. Establishing the new organisation is a large task and will take a number of years to achieve. It is important we take the time to do it properly and to keep working with our people and the sector.
We have divided the work into three key phases:
Amalgamation of urban and rural fire (1 July 2017);
Integration into a single organisation (1 July 2017 – 1 July 2020); and
Unification (from 2020 onwards).
Day One is just the beginning, and in some cases we are putting interim arrangements in place to ensure operations continue smoothly while we work together on delivering a flexible, modern and efficient fire and emergency service.
Fire boundaries will remain on Day One
To maintain operational stability on Day One, the Board has decided to continue using existing fire district boundaries (as an interim measure) from 1 July. The existing legal protection for firefighters will also continue. Re-organising the boundaries is a big job and this will be undertaken in the three-year integration period, after 1 July.
Command and Control policy under development
Guidelines and delegations to make sure command and control arrangements are clear on 1 July will be announced in May. A range of groups are contributing to this work. To date, discussions have included the NZFS Operational Leadership Team; Principal Rural Fire Officers; ‘Leading Through Change’ workshop attendees; unions and associations. Unified command and control arrangements for Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be developed over the next three years.
First national summary of rural response assets
A first ever stocktake of rural response assets has finished with a 100% response rate. The stocktake provides a never-seen before nationwide view of assets (over $1000). It will help ensure future response asset upgrades go to the communities with the greatest risk and need. A summary of the results is now available. Please see the attached page or view the summary on our website under Updates > Rural Response Assets.
This information was gathered by the Transition team between October and December last year through PRFOs and their teams. The team are working with PRFOs on getting access or transfer agreements signed by councils/Rural Fire Authorities.
First comprehensive picture of rural fire costs available
An independent assessment of how much it currently costs to run rural fire services including all ERFDs and RFAs plus the NRFA, has been completed for the first time. The assessment is critical for informing the Fire and Emergency New Zealand budget and the levy rate for 2018/19 and onwards. The assessment puts the current operational cost at $29.3 million per year. This does not include DOC or NZDF fire services. Read the Costs of Rural Fire Servicing report on our website under ‘Toolkit > Key Documents’.
The aim is to bring all 14,000 people into Fire and Emergency New Zealand as smoothly as possible. Everyone – career, volunteer, rural and urban – will be sent a letter to advise how the process will work for them.
You will be provided with a letter advising that your terms and conditions of employment will remain the same, other than the change in name to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. A letter will be sent out to all NZFS/NRFA employees in late May.
Rural Fire Authority employees working solely on fire
(part-time or fulltime)
Your current employer (a Territorial Authority or Enlarged Rural Fire District), is required to consult with you about the proposed change to your employment. They have been asked to begin this process now.
Once consultation is completed, you can expect to receive a letter of offer from Fire and Emergency New Zealand. This will be from mid-April onwards.
Rural Fire Authority employees working partly on fire
Your current employer will discuss the proposed changes to your role with you, including any employment options available to you. This will include the ability to apply for any of the vacant new roles that will be created in Fire and Emergency New Zealand. The vacancies will be advertised in mid/late April. Your letter outlining your options will come from your current employer.
Urban and rural volunteers
Volunteers will maintain the same relationship they currently have with their brigade or rural fire force. You will also become Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel on 1 July. You will receive a letter along with a new Volunteer Agreement to sign.
Volunteers will receive a Volunteer Agreement and accompanying letter at the same time as transferring RFA employees and transitioning NZFS and NRFA employees receive their letters (this is taking place from mid-April through to late May).
Training continues with unit standards
We’ve had some questions on Facebook about whether unit standards will continue to be part of training in the future. The training delivery from both an urban and rural perspective will remain unchanged for 1 July. We are looking at modules of learning that will include both unit standards and skills based training. Any future changes in training will be designed with the relevant sector.
Local Advisory Committees
Local Advisory Committees (LACs) will be appointed by the Board to provide valuable advice on local community risks and needs. LACs will not be involved in governance, management or operations. They are expected to start in mid-2018 after the Board has held consultation on their boundaries.
The first pilot has been running successfully in Greater Auckland. Mid-South Canterbury is the second location for piloting LACs starting in April. The area was in part chosen as it provides a different geographic and risk environment to the first pilot location. A third pilot in Hawke’s Bay will be established later this year. The pilot groups are not the Local Advisory Committees of the future. Rather, they are a group of community members with insight into setting up and running community based forums. The pilots will test the design of LAC processes and support mechanisms.
Volunteer working group helps design improved support
Volunteers are a crucial part of fire services and their communities. We want to show that same dedication and commitment under Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
The Volunteer Working Group is made up of 46 rural and urban representatives from across the country. Their work includes identifying how volunteers, their families and their employers, can be better supported.
It is helping ensure the volunteer voice is heard in shaping the new organisation and the relationship it has with volunteers, including the Volunteer Strategy and accompanying support initiatives, training and resourcing.
Day One support initiatives for volunteers are expected to be confirmed in May and will start to be delivered from 1 July 2017. Further support initiatives will be delivered over the next three years.
The new identity
The new identity for Fire and Emergency New Zealand is something people feel passionately about.
The identity team is meeting with 11 groups of our people in April to get feedback on three design drafts. You may see or hear about these designs. Please be aware they are still a work in progress. The team is testing them with both our people and the public, and a final decision will be made by the Board. We expect to share the final identity in May.
If you’d like to understand how the identity has been developed to this point, please read on. There’s a four step process to create the new identity for Fire and Emergency New Zealand:
December 16 – Research
Jan-Feb 2017 – Engage
March 2017 – Design
April 2017 – Test/Approval by the Board
The identity work is guided by three clear principles:
The new identity must reflect unification of all fire services, while respecting the past and the values important to people
The new identity must be clear for the public so there is no confusion about who we are or what we do
A sensible phased approach must be used when updating the new identity – ‘value for money’ is important.
The team spent two months researching current fire services’ branding best practice here and overseas, and holding interviews and workshops with over 160 people from across the fire services sector to determine the values important to them. The groups met in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin in January/February and included representatives from unions and associations, career, volunteer, urban and rural personnel and support staff.
Many people have shared similar thoughts about the values they think are important; service to the community, protecting, trusted and responsive.
Research with the public shows that New Zealanders are very complimentary about urban and rural fire services. Many see fire services personnel as heroes in the community who go beyond the call of duty to save others’ lives. The identity must reinforce this.
Design testing in April
In March the design phase started, and an Identity Evaluation Panel was formed to review draft designs produced by the designers, Cato Brand Partners. Members of the 12-person panel include representatives from urban and rural firefighters (career and volunteer), the NZPFU, UFBA, NZFRCAs, and the NZFS corporate communications team.
Three designs were presented to the evaluation panel and will now be workshopped with groups from across urban and rural. The designs will also be tested with the public through confidential focus groups.
Once approved, the new identity will be applied in stages. Uniforms, badges, and fire trucks will stay as they are on Day One.
A fact sheet on the identity work is on our website under Toolkit.
Rural computer data move starts April
Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be using current NZFS computer systems from Day One for corporate services such as payroll, paying invoices, and maintaining training records. These computer systems are already available, centralised, and able to process large amounts of data. In April a specialist team from the Transition team will start working with Principal Rural Fire Officers to copy critical data from RFA IT systems to the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand systems. A special team within the Transition team will start this work with Principal Rural Fire Officers in April. If you have any questions please contact Cameron Russo on mobile 021301402, or email at email@example.com
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