2017 UFBA Conference: Showing the way forward
It was an honour and a privilege to attend my first UFBA Conference in Auckland from 27-29 October as Chief Executive Officer.
With topical keynote speakers and workshops on leading together during this period of change, I am delighted with the many messages of congratulations and good wishes we received about how excellent Conference was—excellent at every level and in every detail.
I also appreciated the expertise and positive participation of delegates as we worked our way through major constitutional changes needed to remain fit-for-purpose in the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand environment.
Our 139th UFBA Annual Conference from 27-29 October in Auckland was historic for a number of reasons:
- This year’s Conference was the first since the enactment of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act on 1 July
- We had major constitutional remits to consider including Remit 1 on a proposed merger with our partner, the Forest and Rural Fire Association (FRFANZ), and Remit 2 on representation, advocacy and support services for individual enrolled members of a UFBA member brigade or rural fire force
- The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Volunteering New Zealand to record the intention of both parties to work collaboratively to benefit volunteers and volunteering in New Zealand.
As we enter our 140th year with 540 brigade and rural fire force members, the UFBA is in a strong position to deliver advocacy and support services to our emergency services personnel.
Together with FRFANZ, we will continue to represent all our members with a single powerful voice during the three-year integration phase of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Conference by the numbers
The numbers tell a story of wide representation with 449 registrations from across the country from Mangonui in the Far North to Stewart and the Chatham Islands including:
- 285 volunteer firefighters representing 252 brigades
- 21 rural representatives
- 29 career representatives
- 2 industry brigades
- 7 Provincial representatives
- 42 other (Past Presidents, Life Honorary Members, SLT)
- 43 exhibitors including 32 from Fire and Emergency NZ
- 20 UFBA and Fire and Emergency NZ Board members and officials
- 79 ‘first timer’ delegates and observers
- 81 women.
There is another story in the numbers—why weren’t our other 288 member brigades and rural fire forces represented? Delegates are funded to Conference for travel and accommodation. Why aren’t they coming to give their brigade members a voice on decisions that affect their very valued work in their communities?
Two important factors contribute to a having a successful organisation—knowledge and networking.
Conference had learning and development opportunities in spades through:
- Two excellent keynote speakers—Rob Edwards on why you need to look after yourself to be a good leader, and Simon Gault on taking opportunities to make change and do what you love
- Four UFBA interactive workshops that provided ideas and resources on leading together (including psychological wellbeing)
- Some of the trends in volunteering in New Zealand presented by new UFBA Board Director, Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand and new ideas on how to grow as a leader of volunteers
- The topical presentations and Q&A from Fire and Emergency New Zealand including Board Chair Paul Swain, Chief Executive Rhys Jones (on the operating model and how our members can help to co-design the organisation) and members of the Senior Leadership Team
- Having the ability to discuss issues and concerns directly with the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair, Chief Executive and Senior Leadership Team—we very much appreciated their attendance at Conference, their positive input and their interaction with attendees.
To download various presentations from Conference click here
Our Conference is a prime way for our firefighters to network with colleagues from around the country and from all kinds of brigades—volunteer, career, urban, rural, industry and defence—during breaks and at social functions.
To me, the strength of our networking was shown by the immense positivity, friendship and interest during the Conference sessions.
One session stood out—during Rhys Jones’ session when he asked “what do we want for our uniform”. Everyone was given the opportunity to discuss the uniform with others at their table (or directly with Rhys) and the interaction between attendees was animated and intense—as shown in the image below.
Fire and Emergency NZ collected the written feedback and will take this into account during the uniform design. This was a prime example of member consultation and co-design.
Another opportunity for getting to know colleagues from across the country was on the Friday evening when UFBA hosted a networking function for women attendees at Conference including UFBA Patron Dame Margaret Bazley and UFBA Board Director Judith Stanley. Again, we have had positive feedback on this event.
With so many topical development and networking opportunities on offer we do have to ask why 288 brigades and rural fire forces did not attend this year or at least were not represented by proxy vote.
I and my team will certainly consider strategies to get more along for our 140th Conference in Wellington from 16-18 November 2018.
Congratulations to our new Directors, Officers and Life Honorary Members
Welcome to the two new UFBA Board Directors installed at Conference—Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand, who was appointed as the second independent Director and Warren Maslin from Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade who was elected by the membership at the AGM.
We thanked Glenn Williams from Te Puke Volunteer Fire Brigade for his commitment to six years on the Board including two as Deputy Chair and welcomed him to the position of Vice President along with Joe Manihera to the role of President for the next year.
We also welcomed Mark Osborne from Tawa Volunteer Fire Brigade who was elected to the Technical Panel at Conference and Phillip Mackay from Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade who joined the NZFBI Council. Challenges Committee Chair Nigel Lilley thanked Ian Lindsay for his service and commitment to the UFBA Technical Panel and Challenges since his election as a panel member in 2013 including two years as Convenor.
I and my team look forward to working with your new representatives who have wide-ranging and sound experience in leadership, sustainable volunteerism and co-design work with Fire and Emergency NZ.
Congratulations also to the two new UFBA Life Honorary Members—Alan Kittelty for his long service and dedication to the UFBA and George Verry for his long and effective tenure as UFBA Chief Executive Officer. I certainly acknowledge George for his mentoring and sage advice, and for his excellent handover. See more about their awards
UFBA and Volunteering New Zealand sign a Memorandum of Understanding
A key purpose of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand legislation (Section 36) is to provide additional support for fire and emergency services volunteers to ensure volunteerism is sustainable and continues to keep people safe and secure in their local communities.
Aligning to the UFBA’s commitment to sustainable volunteerism, Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand and UFBA Director, and I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UFBA and Volunteering New Zealand to record the intention of both parties to work collaboratively to benefit volunteers and volunteerism.
UFBA Chair Rick Braddock and Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair Paul Swain and Chief Executive Rhys Jones witnessed the signing.
Major remits passed by members
I commend delegates for their positive discussions regarding the following two major remits at Conference and for carrying the motions with applause.
These will allow UFBA/FRFANZ to build on our collective strength during the three-year integration phase of Fire and Emergency NZ and enable us to provide effective advocacy and support services to meet the needs of our members.
Remit #1 – Proposed Merger of FRFANZ with United Fire Brigades’ Association
The benefits of this proposed merger are
- A single powerful voice for all firefighters (our membership numbers could increase by 130 brigades/rural fire forces)
- Better development and networking opportunities
- Well-resourced advocacy and support services for all firefighters.
Conference supported in principle a merger of the Forest and Rural Fire Association of New Zealand (FRFANZ) with the United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) to form an enlarged organisation, and empowered the United Fire Brigades’ Association Board to effect the merger to take effect in 2018.
Remit #2 – Representation, Advocacy and Support for Enrolled Members of a Fire Brigade Member
The UFBA is committed to ensuring all Enrolled Members of Fire Brigade Members have the support and the representation they need to confidently serve their communities.
The motion that Clause 6.5 of the United Fire Brigades’ Association Constitution be amended with a new Clause 6.5.1, with the existing, following, Clauses consequentially re-numbered: 6.5.1 Insert “To receive representation, advocacy and support services when dealing with issues, grievances and disputes arising out of their membership of a Member Brigade" was carried.
UFBA/FRFANZ are proud of the advocacy and support services we provide to our members and to individual volunteers. Since 1 July, we have had remarkable success with advocacy on various issues. We are now in the process of reviewing our resources to ensure we can meet the growing needs of our members.
For details of our advocacy and support services—both for individuals and for brigades/rural fire forces click here
For full details of all the remits and other business at Conference, see the Day One and Day Two Minutes
The Day Three AGM Minutes will be available following confirmation at the UFBA Board meeting on 15 December.
UFBA and Provincials: Leading together
Provincials can contribute to sustainable volunteerism through learning and development opportunities such as training and competitions, enhancing wellbeing in our brigades and rural fire forces and reducing the burden of administration on volunteers.
The seven Provincials and UFBA are working a lot closer together with monthly conference calls helping us all to see how we can better support volunteers.
After the success of the single, combined Provincial address at last year’s conference, Provincials again collectively agreed to continue with this format at Conference this year. Grahame Howell, President Auckland Provincial Fire Brigades’ Association, gave the joint presentation.
I am delighted that following the presentation, Fire and Emergency NZ Board Chair Paul Swain said to Grahame that he " ... was particularly impressed with your thoughts on how Provincials could assist with advocacy and information flows during the Integration phase”.
UFBA/FRFANZ: Future Initiatives
As I explained at Conference, part of our role and that of Fire and Emergency NZ is to demystify areas of change. We will work alongside Fire and Emergency NZ on your behalf to realise the vision of this new organisation.
The nature of volunteering is changing. I asked attendees - “how do we sustain volunteerism?” UFBA/FRFANZ will work with Fire and Emergency NZ on your behalf on ways to sustain brigades and rural fire forces.
Our job as UFBA/FRFANZ is to build knowledge, provide ways to network and to build relationships with you as our members, Fire and Emergency NZ and other partners
UFBA/FRFANZ are continuing to work with Fire and Emergency NZ on co-design including on the operating model for the organisation and safety, health and wellbeing. With such co-design, UFBA/FRFANZ alongside you as our members, are co-owners of our fire and emergency services.
22 November 2017
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