The new Fire and Emergency New Zealand legislation received Royal Assent from the Governor-General on 11 May, after passing in Parliament.
In other words, our new legislation has all the formal approval it needs to come into effect on 1 July 2017. The new Act enables the establishment of Fire and Emergency New Zealand and gives us the legislative mandate for everything we’ve been working to achieve. You can read the latest version here.
Regional Manager Rural appointments
The Board was very pleased with the appointments of five new Regional Manager Rural positions for Fire and Emergency New Zealand on Friday 19 May.
The five Regional Manager Rural positions, which are two-year appointments, are new roles that will report to the National Manager Rural Kevin O’Connor from 1 July. They will work alongside the Fire Region Managers (urban) to ensure consistency of our fire response while we work towards a full integration over the next 2-3 years. Principal Rural Fire Officers will report to the Regional Managers Rural and more details on this will be provided in the next couple of weeks.
Region 1 – Bryan Cartelle
Region 2 – John Sutton
Region 3 – Gary Lockyer
Region 4 – Richard (Mac) McNamara
Region 5 – Mike Grant
You can read more about the appointees and their backgrounds here.
All five appointments have considerable rural fire experience and will make an excellent contribution to the integration of urban fire services and rural fire authorities into our new organisation, without disruption to day-to-day operations.
Day One Events
Saturday 1 July will be a significant day in New Zealand’s fire and emergency history. To mark the day, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne, the Board, Chief Executive Rhys Jones, National Commander Urban Paul McGill and National Manager Rural Kevin O’Connor will join urban and rural fire personnel in Ashburton to celebrate the formation of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
A street parade has been planned involving fire appliances through the ages and a couple of urban and rural appliances will be decked out in the new logo. It promises to be a great day. The Board is also encouraging all stations, brigades and volunteer rural fire forces around the country to host their own local Day One events, and has agreed to provide funding to contribute to the cost of events, according to a formula based on the number of firefighters per station.
You could put this towards a morning tea, BBQ or other community event. What you decide to do is completely up to you and your teams but we encourage urban and rural stations, brigades and fire forces to come together to mark the occasion with colleagues, families, employers, and community.
Each one of our fire stations or premises – from the big and historic Wellington Central station, to the most remote rural volunteer facility – will get a wall plaque as part of the Day One information packs, which will be distributed from mid-June. The design signifies the coming together of urban and rural fire services into a new organisation, showcases our new visual identity, and should stand the test of time.
More details on this and the Day One event funding allocation will be available in the next Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bulletin.
Day One – Volunteer Support Initiatives
The Board has approved the Year One volunteer support initiatives, which are a big milestone for volunteers and the new organisation.
The volunteer support initiatives include over 50 additional training, development, in-field support and co-ordinator roles supporting volunteer rural fire forces and urban volunteer brigades. These positions will be filled during the first year of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Year One will also see additional funding for local and flexible volunteer training, and locally-based pilots to identify new ways to meet the differing needs of individual brigades and volunteer rural fire forces and help reduce the administrative burden. As one volunteer said “we’re here to do community work, not paper work”.
More details of these initiatives will be available in the next Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bulletin.
A wide range of volunteer and career personnel from across the urban and rural sectors have been brought together to tell us how things could be done better in the future. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their valuable input into these Year One volunteer support initiatives.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand will continue making improvements in this area over the next three years to encourage, maintain and strengthen the capability of volunteers.
Safety, health and wellbeing
The Board would like to acknowledge the important role the five unions and associations (NZPFU, NZFRCA, UFBA, FRFANZ, PSA) have played in support of the safety, health and wellbeing of our people in our new organisation.
On 3 July, the new Chief Executive Rhys Jones and I will sign our Safety, Health and Wellbeing Policy Commitment with these five organisations, to demonstrate our collective pledge to ensure everyone goes home safe and well after any work they undertake on behalf of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Last week the Board also took part in another workshop led by Stacey Shortall, Partner at MinterEllisonRuddWatts on our wider safety, health and wellbeing responsibilities from 1 July.
While there’s already a strong focus on safety within the organisations that will amalgamate to form Fire and Emergency New Zealand, our new Safety, Health and Wellbeing Strategy sets out a clear path to building a safer and healthier organisation together, with a focus on managing and monitoring critical risks to physical safety, work-related health and psychological wellbeing.
Technology on the go
The Board was given a demo of the ‘Mobile Response App’ this month, which will bring incident data, maps, building plans, water supply locations, site reports, and more to a tablet device on fire appliances. They’ll receive this information from another piece of equipment known as a ‘Mobile Information Hub’ that will be installed in the cab of the fire appliance. This will provide 3G/4G/WiFi and satellite connectivity, similar to what our Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams used in Kaikoura to provide WiFi for other emergency service agencies during the first five days of the last year’s earthquake response.
Although it’s still a year or two away from being ready for operational use, new tools that incorporate modern technology like this are a step-change to making it easier for fire and emergency personnel to do their jobs. We look forward to seeing more progress as trials are conducted with urban and rural operational crews later this year.
We also trialled the new ‘Escape My House’ virtual reality experience, which is very impressive. Resource kits with this equipment are being prepared for rollout to each region within the next couple of months, and these will be a fantastic addition to the toolkit for our people out there educating the public about the dangers of fire, and the need to have an escape plan.
50 Year Medals, Jubilees, and Royal New Zealand Honours
Congratulations to Carl Beissel of Levin, John Bull of Coromandel, and William Payne of Mossburn who all received 50 Year Medals recently at ceremonies attended by Board members Angela Hauk-Willis and Te Aroha Cook. Thank you Carl, John, and William for your outstanding service and commitment to your communities.
This month we also hosted our New Years’ Honours recipients and their families for a lunch in Wellington after their investiture at Government House, with Minister Peter Dunne, Deputy Chair Nicki Crauford, Board member Angela Hauk-Willis, and Chief Executive & National Commander Paul McGill
Frank McGuire, John May, Warren Feek, Paul Lyall, and Maurie Doughty.
The five recipients were Maurie Doughty of Mangawhai, Warren Feek of Matamata, Paul Lyall of Wellington, John May of Wainuiomata, and Frank McGuire of Blackball who all received Queen’s Service Medals. Our very sincere congratulations for this royal recognition of your service.
Greymouth CFO Lee Swinburn, Board Chair Paul Swain
Congratulations are also due to Mangonui brigade, who celebrated their 50th Jubilee this month, Tuakau, who celebrated their 75th, and Greymouth, who celebrated their 150th.
I was fortunate to be able to attend the ceremony at Greymouth with Minister Dunne and it was great to enjoy some traditional West Coast hospitality with stories from both past and present members. The brigade also showed huge confidence in my driving by allowing me to drive their 1925 Dennis to Greymouth Station and I’m pleased to report we made it to the station safe and sound.
Until the next update, stay safe and keep up the good work.
Hon. Paul Swain
Board Chair, New Zealand Fire Service Commission