A high level principle of the UFBA Advocacy Charter relates to member consultation: when we propose advocating specific policy positions to Government or the NZFSC, we will consult a representative sample of brigades to ensure we accurately portray the position of a majority of brigades.
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill was introduced to Parliament on 30 June to repeal the Fire Service Act 1975 and the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 and give effect to a single unified fire services organisation (FENZ).
On 18 August, UFBA and FRFANZ submitted a joint submission on the Bill to the Government Administration Committee. The submission was the culmination of a significant amount of work during the few weeks available, covering in-depth research, seeking feedback from members through an online survey and widespread consultation with volunteer fire brigades and rural fire forces across most regions of the country.
By the end of September, UFBA Director Bill Butzbach, consultant Murray McKee and FRFANZ officials had attended consultation meetings in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Wellington, Manawatu-Whanganui, Nelson-Tasman, Canterbury, West Coast, Otago and Southland.
The meetings were well attended with a good mix of urban and rural members. Host brigades were very generous with their time and hospitality and the roadshow team really appreciated the great facilities and support that contributed to the roadshow’s success.
Members travelled considerable distances to attend the meetings. This spoke volumes about the importance they place on their future in the sector.
More visits are planned prior to this year’s Conference to ensure we hear from as many of our members as possible as time and budget allows.
Quality feedback collected
The first visits related entirely to the collection of face-to-face feedback on the FENZ Bill to inform the joint UFBA/FRFANZ submission to the Select Committee.
The visits combined with an online membership survey were put together within a compressed timeframe to meet the submission deadline. This did not impact the quality of the advice members provided to us.
It became evident very early on in the roadshow that there is a large demand for information about the FENZ transition. There is also a multitude of misinformation about the transition process.
We therefore decided to extend the roadshow to assist members to better understand and make sense of what is being planned.
High level of agreement
We recorded a substantial amount of information at the meetings—this will reinforce the quality of the UFBA/FRFANZ contributions to the FENZ transition process over the next few years.
There was a high level of agreement across all locations about the issues raised during the forums.
This provided great confidence to the roadshow team about the accuracy of what would be passed on during the various consultation processes on the changes ahead.
A Volunteer Fire Brigade Viewpoint
From Philip Woolf, CFO Takaka Volunteer Fire Brigade
“The recent UFBA roadshow hosted by Richmond Volunteer Fire Brigade was welcomed by a group comprising Area 17 (Nelson/ Tasman) urban and rural officers and firefighters.
The joint presentation was very informative of the work being done by UFBA and FRFANZ with the FENZ Transition Team.
I would encourage as many as possible to make the effort to attend a roadshow and ‘become engaged’ with the pending changes. UFBA and FRFANZ are in a position to advocate on our behalf and the variety of suggestions from the existing membership gives hope that such considerations will get to the right table.
By participating, you have an opportunity to be part of history in shaping the new look FENZ organisation. Special thanks to Bill and Murray for taking the time to deliver the roadshow to smaller brigades and rural locations."
A Rural Viewpoint
From Graeme MacIntyre, Palmerston North Deputy Rural Fire Officer and FRFANZ Management Committee
“Having face-to-face meetings is a good mechanism for member consultation on the FENZ Bill and transition processes. UFBA and FRFANZ getting alongside each other and working together has shown there is someone working for all of us and for our best interests.
Bill and Murray made it clear what the major issues are for volunteers and what is in the UFBA/FRFANZ submission. It was a very good forum for getting feedback and answering questions, both from the rural point of view and urban.
Explaining ‘this is what we know about FENZ and the transition now and these are the areas where we’ll ask for confirmation’, gave everyone an understanding of the work UFBA/FRFANZ are doing on our behalf. We should work together a lot more.”
Pictured: UFBA consultant Murray McKee and Director Bill Butzbach present a volunteer’s perspective on the proposed FENZ Bill and Transition to urban and rural volunteers from across the West Coast at Greymouth Volunteer Fire Station. Photo: Nigel Lilley
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