In the most significant change in 70 years, urban and rural fire services will be amalgamated into one organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand Transition Project was set up by the Fire Services Commission Board to work with the sector to ensure Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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Defence Force (NZDF) will no longer be Rural Fire Authorities from 1 July 2017, when the Forest and Rural Fires Act is repealed.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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand, DOC and the NZDF. The new agreements will outline how Fire and Emergency New Zealand will co-ordinate with DOC and NZDF on their respective land.
You will still be known by your existing name — this will not change on Day One.
We are currently finalising the ‘Phase Two Blueprint’ which is the plan for how we tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead over the next few years.
Our ultimate goal is a unified organisation. As the Minister and the Board Chair have said, we need to take our time to get it right. This means focusing on addressing the key themes identified in the review: increasing effectiveness of service delivery, better support of volunteers, addressing under investment in rural services, retaining community involvement, and involving our people and representatives from the wider sector in designing the new organisation.
Our first step is bringing together some 14,000 people and 40 organisations under one umbrella on Day One. Work is underway on guidance to make sure command and control arrangements at incidents are clear on Day One, and you can expect to see those within the next month. While we’re just starting work on the next stages, this may offer greater opportunities for all firefighters to work across a wider range of specialities depending on the risks and needs of the community and greater flexibility for brigades and fire forces about the types of incidents they attend, and what they are required to train for.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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).
The current arrangements will continue. The existing bank account is yours (belongs to the brigade) and that will continue. All operational expenses will be funded by Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
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 Project has 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.
Bringing 40 urban and rural fire services under one umbrella will create a new organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand. It’s not simply a case of rural fire services coming into the New Zealand Fire Service; we are creating a brand new entity. It’s important to recognise all these organisations and their heritage, while creating a single identity for the future.
Uniforms will not change on Day One of Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Any changes to uniforms will be phased in over time to ensure we get the most out of existing uniforms and aren’t spending money on re-branding unnecessarily.
How the uniform is updated to incorporate the new branding is still to be worked through after Day One. A working group will be formed after Day One to work on uniform design then. The use of badging or colour to signify rural and non-rural firefighters has been raised in several of the identity engagement sessions run with our people in January/February this year.
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.
NZFS/NRFA EMPLOYEES: New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) and National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA) employees will become employees of Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and their existing employment terms and conditions will remain unchanged on 1 July. Letters of confirmation will be sent to all NZFS/NRFA employees towards the end of May.
RURAL FIRE AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES WORKING SOLELY ON FIRE (FULL-TIME OR PART-TIME): RFA personnel working solely on rural fire duties (whether full-time or part-time) will be consulted with by their employer (Territorial Authority or Enlarged Rural Fire District) on their proposed transfer to Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and then pending the outcome of consultation, offered a role with Fire and Emergency New Zealand on equivalent terms and conditions of employment.
TAs and ERFDs have been asked to undertake this process in early April. Once consultation is completed, transferring RFA personnel will receive a letter of offer from Fire and Emergency New Zealand and it is now envisaged that these will be sent out in late April.
RURAL FIRE AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES WORKING PARTLY ON FIRE: RFA employees currently employed to work partly on fire duties will, as part of consultation, have a discussion with their employer on the impact of the proposed changes on their role and the employment options available to them. This will include the ability to apply for any of the vacant new roles that will be created in Fire and Emergency New Zealand and which will be advertised in late April.
VOLUNTEERS: Urban and rural volunteers will become Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel on 1 July and will have a Volunteer Agreement towards the end of May. Volunteers will continue to maintain the same relationship they currently have with their brigade or rural fire force.
Answer to more questions about jobs, roles, and entitlements are on the website.
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.
Yes. The national leaders of Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be Chief Executive, National Commander Urban, and National Manager Rural. These are all new roles which will start on 1 July 2017 and will be fixed term, two-year appointments while the integration phase of work for the new organisation is completed.
Five new, fixed term roles of Regional Manager Rural (RMR) will also be established and appointed by 1 July 2017.
Additional roles will be in place by 1 July 2017 for rural, volunteer support, and in national headquarters. More details on this will be provided in May.
The new role of National Commander Urban (NCU) will be responsible for strategic and operational service delivery of urban fire and emergency services. This is a fixed term, two-year appointment which will start on 1 July 2017.
A new role of National Manager Rural (NMR) will include the current National Rural Fire Officer (NRFO) responsibilities, as well as having operational/management responsibilities for rural fire service delivery across the country. This is a fixed term, two-year appointment which will start on 1 July 2017.
The RMR roles have been established for a fixed term of two years, while the integration phase of work for the new organisation is completed. RMRs will report to the new National Manager Rural role, and they will be appointed by 1 July.
RMRs provide a practical arrangement for Principal Rural Fire Officers to report into the Fire and Emergency New Zealand structure and will be responsible for a geographical area similar to the current urban fire regional boundaries, and will report to the new National Manager Rural role.
Apart from the appointment of a new Fire and Emergency New Zealand Chief Executive and National Commander Urban, there will be no change to the organisational structure for urban fire operations up to, and including, Fire Region Managers (FRMs). Area Managers (AMs) in each existing Fire Service Region will continue to report to the appropriate FRM. The FRMs will report to the new National Commander Urban (NCU) role.
Apart from the appointment of a new Fire and Emergency New Zealand Chief Executive, National Manager Rural, and 5 Regional Managers Rural (RMR), there will be no changes to the roles engaged solely on rural fire operations up to Principal Rural Fire Officers (PRFOs). PRFOs will report to the relevant RMR and some of their day-to-day duties may change slightly.
Employees who do not fall under the category of ‘transferred employee’ because they are only engaged for part of their time on fire related duties will have the opportunity to apply for vacant rural fire positions once the consultation process with transferring employees has been completed around mid-April.
Employees who are only engaged for part of their time on fire related duties will have ‘preferential treatment’ or ‘priority access’ to these vacancies. An ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EOI) process will be used for applications, and an interview may be held with those who have been expressed interest and been shortlisted. If vacant roles are not filled during this process, they may be advertised wider or an interim arrangement considered.
DOC and NZDF employees who do rural fire work will remain with their respective organisations.
No, however in early 2017 we will be working with functions that will be required to provide services across Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand invoice processing system on 1 July 2017.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Transition Infrastructure & Technology Workstream is collecting supplier information. The accounts payable team for Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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. Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Fire and Emergency New Zealand will assume responsibility for debt associated with the asset. However, Fire and Emergency New Zealand has the ability to question the associated debt or decline to take on the asset.
When Fire and Emergency New Zealand begins using an asset, Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 VRFF are maintained. In establishing Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Board wishes to build on what already works well in communities around New Zealand.
So, while volunteers will become Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel from 1 July 2017, they will still come together as the local Brigade or VRFF in much the same way as they do now. Local leadership roles will continue in Brigades, VRFFs, 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand, there may be less distinction drawn between rural and urban firefighters. Instead Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 to volunteers.
An additional process (the Volunteer Issue Process) will be available to volunteers from Day One. This is intended to be a first step to resolve, where possible, early and local resolution of any issues as they arise.
Once Fire and Emergency New Zealand is up and running, a formal dispute resolution scheme will then be established. The Transition Project team is working with stakeholders to develop proposals for the new scheme, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand is required to formally consult with people affected by the scheme before it is implemented. This consultation will happen after 1 July 2017.
The Board is discussing a number of options for Day One to provide an enhanced range of support for volunteers across a range of areas. The Transition Project team is working with stakeholders, including the United Fire Brigades Association (UFBA), on a volunteer strategy which will clarify these sorts of questions in future, and more will come as a result of these discussions. We understand, from research, that volunteers are motivated by a variety of factors and there are differing opinions about cash payments and insurance subsidies. Any options will be developed with stakeholders to provide the best solution for volunteers as part of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Levy exemptions are set by the Government following public consultation by the Department of Internal Affairs. The exemption suggested did not form part of the recent consultation by the Department.
Rotation of volunteers for long duration jobs will continue as it currently does, at least for the first year. You will be included in any discussions around any proposed changes.
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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand is legally established on 1 July 2017. Only after that can Local Advisory Committees be established and members appointed.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Mid-South Canterbury, which started in 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand about their community’s fire and emergency risks and needs.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill. Existing industrial brigades will retain a relationship with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand. While some of the finer details could change, it is intended that a similar agreement between the industry fire brigade and Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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.
From 1 July 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand 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 Fire and Emergency New Zealand.