In the most significant change in 70 years, urban and rural fire services will be amalgamated into one organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) – from 1 July 2017. The Bill to amalgamate New Zealand’s fire services is currently before Parliament and will ultimately replace the Fire Service Act 1975 and the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977.
The FENZ Transition Project was set up by the Fire Services Commission Board to work with the sector to ensure FENZ is ready to operate from 1 July 2017 – what we’re calling Day One.
The fire and other emergency functions of 40 organisations will be amalgamated into FENZ from 1 July 2017.
New Zealand’s fire services are currently made up of:
These services are delivered by paid and volunteer personnel alongside contractors in rural areas.
The Department of Conservation, New Zealand Defence Force, and industry fire brigades at places like airports and factories also provide fire services, but will not become part of FENZ.
FENZ will be up and running from 1 July 2017. But a lot needs to happen before then, such as the passing of legislation by Parliament and a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work to ensure the amalgamation of urban and rural fire services takes place smoothly.
Day One is just the beginning, there will still be a lot of work required to integrate and ultimately unify rural and urban fire services in the years ahead.
Firefighters are doing a great job right now – responding to callouts quickly and professionally. However, a number of improvements were identified by the fire services sector and wider community in the 2015 Fire Services Review. These include:
Cabinet agreed the name of the new organisation in April 2016. ‘Fire and Emergency New Zealand’ (FENZ) reflects the organisation’s purpose and functions; responding to fire and other emergencies.
As FENZ will play a key role in the emergency sector, and has mandated emergency service functions, it is important to include the word ‘emergency’ in its name.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will no longer be Rural Fire Authorities from 1 July 2017, when the Forest and Rural Fires Act is repealed.
Firefighters in DOC and NZDF will stay with their respective organisations. They will continue to work in co-ordination with other firefighters locally.
New operational agreements will be put in place between FENZ, DOC and the NZDF. The new agreements will outline how FENZ will co-ordinate with DOC and NZDF on their respective land.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) will have one main source of funding – the levy – with a small amount of revenue from the Crown and other sources. The Government has approved extra funding of $303 million over four years from 2016/17 to create FENZ and strengthen existing capabilities. This figure consists of up to $112 million for the transition, and up to $191 million to primarily provide extra support to volunteer firefighters and to address underinvestment in rural fire services. View the Cabinet paper including funding decisions.
From 1 July 2017, with the repeal of the Forest and Rural Fires Act, councils will no longer have responsibility for fire control or the power to collect funding for rural fire (although they will retain civil defence responsibilities).
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is a new organisation, and will need its own logo and colours. Although we are aiming to have a new logo ready for 1 July 2017, uniforms and fleet livery will not change on Day One. This is because the question of uniforms is one that will require extensive discussions and consultation.
To assist with the development of the new logo, the FENZ Transition Projecthas been engaging with over 160 fire personnel to hear what our personnel need, want and most of all, value about their organisation.
Once the identity changes have been decided by the Board in April, there will be a gradual transition to the new look from Day One onwards, including replacing old uniforms and livery with new ones as needed; in parallel with the normal operational review of uniform components.
All of which means it’s too early to say what colour the trucks and uniforms will be, but we will be keeping stakeholders informed as we go along.
Emergency numbers are not changing. The public should still call 111 – or the existing emergency number for their area – from 1 July 2017.
Local leadership roles will continue in brigades, Voluntary Rural Fire Forces, and stations. This will help to keep day-to-day work running smoothly.
No, there won’t be any redundancies on Day One of FENZ.
On 1 July 2017:
Existing staff will continue to have existing employment rights and entitlements when they transfer to FENZ. This includes superannuation.
The Board is currently considering the high level organisational structure of FENZ from 1 July 2017, so we don’t have an answer yet but will be letting people know this important news once decisions have been made.
The FENZ Transition Project recognises the important and ongoing role for contractors in the rural fire sector, so operational agreements with contractors will continue to be in place on 1 July 2017. It’s vital there are enough firefighters to provide the necessary coverage in all parts of the country.
The precise arrangements for each Rural Fire Authority will be worked through with the FENZ Transition Project in the coming months and may vary between authorities.
On 1 July 2017:
New Zealand Fire Service/National Rural Fire Authority employees will automatically become employees of FENZ and will retain their existing entitlements under their employment agreements.
Members of volunteer fire brigades, and VRFFs will become FENZ personnel (employees, volunteers, and contractors), so the new organisation can be better informed on, and better able to support volunteers. This will not detract from the relationships that volunteers have with their local leaders, their brigade or VRFF, or their community.
Employees working for affected Rural Fire Authorities employed solely (whether part or full time) on fire and emergency work will transfer to FENZ, with their FENZ employment agreement reflecting their current entitlements. (DOC and NZDF employees will remain with their respective organisations)
For employees working for affected Rural Fire Authorities who perform some fire work, along with other work specific to the local authority, there will be discussions with them and their current employer to work through future arrangements.
No, however in early 2017 we will be working with functions that will be required to provide services across FENZ to identify what, if any, additional resources are required for 1 July 2017.
This has not yet been determined but are looking into this in early 2017.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is a new organisation, and will need its own logo and colours. Although we are aiming to have a new logo ready for 1 July 2017, it’s unlikely uniforms or livery will change from Day One. The question of uniforms is one that will require extensive discussion and consultation.
To assist with the development of the new logo, the FENZ Transition Project want to hear what personnel need, want and most of all, value about their current organisation. Planning for how and when these conversations will take place is currently underway.
Once the new logo is decided by the Board the FENZ Transition team will provide templates for stationary, email signatures, forms etc. Templates for other items such as signs will come after the 1 of July.
There will be a gradual transition to the new look from 1 July 2017 onwards, including replacing old uniforms and livery with new ones as needed; in parallel with the normal operational review of uniform components.
It’s too early to say what colour the trucks and uniforms will be, but we will be keeping people informed.
At this stage Approval Plus will be the FENZ invoice processing system on 1 July 2017.
The FENZ Transition Infrastructure & Technology Workstream is collecting supplier information. The accounts payable team for FENZ will be increased in order to follow up on confirming bank details with new suppliers.
Converting local arrangements to national contracts is not a priority for 1 July 2017. FENZ will use the bank accounts, GST and IRD numbers from NZFS and the Rural Fire Authorities (RFAs). Existing suppliers will be notified of the change prior to 1 July.
Clear command and control will be in place to ensure everything runs smoothly from Day One.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) will establish clear policies and principles that clarify responsibilities between FENZ personnel at incidents.
Policies will seek to ensure that:
Principles will be developed to support nationally consistent assignment of command and control responsibilities.
Conversations between stakeholders and urban and rural leaders will take place before Day One to decide how to give effect to the principles at a local level. After Day One FENZ will monitor how well these arrangements work and make changes if necessary to ensure they work.
On 1 July 2017, it will largely be business as usual. In future, firefighters will be better equipped, better trained, better supported and better co-ordinated. New Zealand fire services will have suitable and sustainable funding with the proposed expansion of the levy. Funding for improvements will be particularly apparent in rural and remote communities where services can be under-resourced. Communities themselves will also benefit: they can highlight local risks or specific needs to FENZ through Local Committees.
Many of the changes planned for FENZ will involve behind-the-scenes improvements – such as better co-ordination of urban and rural crews and clearer interaction with other emergency agencies such as Police, ambulance services and Civil Defence. Overall, this will amount to more consistent and effective firefighting operations throughout the country and stronger governance and accountability.
Firefighters will continue to respond rapidly to fires and other emergencies – and to deal with them efficiently and professionally.
Yes. The current NZFS Rank and Authorised Command Level policy will still apply on 1 July 2017. It will need to be reviewed in light of changes to operational policies and processes and any changes to organisational structures and roles.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) will need to have access to the operational response assets of rural fire authorities around the country to operate effectively from 1 July 2017.
But, the ownership of those assets will be worked through if needed with owners on an individual basis, and over time. In fact, up to four years has been allowed to make agreed ownership changes, depending on the preferences of the owners.
Operational response assets do not include such things as pool tables, televisions, social club funds, vintage equipment and memorabilia.
You can read more about this process in the Assets Fact Sheet.
The FENZ Transition Project has been working with Rural Fire Authorities to build a picture of the response assets in each area. This includes property, vehicles and equipment needed for FENZ’s firefighting and other emergency work.
Other information is also being collected, including current ownership and use arrangements, any debt on the asset, maintenance contracts, applicable rates and an estimated value.
Some voluntary rural fire forces have built up assets through fundraising and community donations or have entered into financial or other non-financial arrangements. Those assets should continue to be used in the community that brought or fundraised for them, using the philosophy that the assets obtained for a community should be retained by the community.
If an asset is transferred to FENZ, FENZ will assume responsibility for debt associated with the asset. However, FENZ has the ability to question the associated debt or decline to take on the asset.
When FENZ begins using an asset, FENZ becomes responsible for maintaining and insuring the asset.
Yes. It’s important that the strong relationships built up over time between communities and their local brigade or fire force are maintained. In establishing FENZ, the Board wishes to build on what already works well in communities around New Zealand. So, while all volunteers will become affiliated with Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) from 1 July 2017, they will still ‘belong’ to their local brigade or fire force. This means they will take operational direction from their local leader, just as they do now. (Local leadership roles will continue in brigades, Voluntary Rural Fire Forces, and stations.)
Rural firefighters in many parts of the country are already responding to callouts such as motor vehicle crashes and medical emergencies. And urban crews often respond initially to vegetation fires until rural crews turn out. On 1 July 2017 this will not change. If a voluntary rural fire force currently only turns out to vegetation fires, then that will continue on 1 July 2017. In the future under FENZ, there may be less distinction drawn between rural and urban firefighters. Instead FENZ will have firefighters with the skills and resources to deal with the particular demands of their local communities.
Health standards are in the Bill primarily to protect the safety of fire fighters, members of the public, and other first responders on the scene.
The Bill says the Board may develop health standards for all operational personnel (including paid and volunteer firefighters). The Board must consult with associations or unions that represent personnel, before setting these standards.
This is a complex piece of work that will require information and involvement from a wide range of people. The FENZ Transition Project hopes to have an initial discussion with unions and associations about the general approach to health standards in the weeks leading up to June 2017. A working group of interested parties, including union and association representatives, will be established to work on the standards in more detail, after 1 July 2017. The group will develop recommendations for the Board on the management of health standards into the future.
In the meantime the physical competency assessment (PCA) will continue for NZFS operational employees who are currently required to participate.
From 1 July 2017, an interim dispute resolution process will be available. Once FENZ is up and running a formal dispute resolution scheme will then be established. The FENZ Transition Project will be working with stakeholders to develop proposals for the new scheme and FENZ is required to formally consult with people affected by the scheme before it is implemented. This consultation will happen after 1 July 2017.
In the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill (Bill), it proposes that Local Advisory Committees provide local advice to Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). They will provide advice to FENZ on local issues and planning.
It is expected there will be between 12 and 16 Local Advisory Committees, although no decisions have been made yet. Local Advisory Committees will have no governance, management, or operational control over any brigade/Voluntary Rural Fire Force; person; resource; or budget in the ‘locality’.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill requires the Board to publicly consult on proposed boundaries for local committees, and consultation will start once FENZ is legally established on 1 July 2017. Only after that can Local Committees be established and members appointed.
The FENZ Transition Project is running two pilots to test what is required for Local Committees and how it will work in local communities.
The first pilot is being held in greater Auckland and started before Christmas 2016. The second pilot location is yet to be announced but will be running by March 2017.
Further information on local committees and the pilots is available here
The committees have an advisory function only – they will not be a governance or management committee, nor will they make operational decisions for FENZ.
Appointments will be made by the Board.
Local Advisory Committees are a group of people who can represent stakeholders’ interests and views. They are not a group of representatives from agencies.
Local Advisory Committee members will need to act collectively in the best interests of their community.
The main purpose of each Local Advisory Committee is to provide a strong local influence and advice to FENZ about their community’s fire and emergency risks and needs.
The FENZ Bill spells out the functions of the Local Advisory Committees –
Industrial brigades provide fire services in places like airports and factories. They are due to be renamed industry brigades under the FENZ Bill. Existing industrial brigades will retain a relationship with FENZ, and will receive the same level of support they currently obtain from the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS). On 1 July 2017 any agreement between an industrial brigade and NZFS automatically becomes an agreement between an industry fire brigade and FENZ. While some of the finer details could change, it is intended that a similar agreement between the industry fire brigade and FENZ will remain in place for the future.
Volunteer brigades and Voluntary Rural Fire Forces (VRFFs) will be able to decide whether they want to keep their charitable status under Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).
From 1 July 2017, FENZ will fund equipment needed by brigades and fire forces to perform their mandated activities (outlined in the Bill), so there won’t be the same need to apply for grants or fundraise through the community for equipment.
It’s likely FENZ will adopt a practice, similar to the policy of the New Zealand Fire Service, of having a list of authorised standard equipment on each appliance type.
If brigades or fire forces choose to remain a registered charity, incorporated society or other type of entity, it will be up to them to comply with the relevant legislation governing that type of entity; and to resource the administrative activity required to maintain that entity. Compliance will not be the responsibility of FENZ.