Message from George Verry, Chief Executive Officer
The fire services reform process continues to be a primary focus for the UFBA Board and senior staff. However, we are hampered in our work by two factors.
Firstly, the proposed new legislation is cloaked in secrecy until it is tabled in Parliament - the timing of this could be very soon.
Secondly, unlike the current Fire Service Act 1975 which is very prescriptive, the new legislation will be more ‘enabling’, which means that a substantive amount of any changes will be in the form of regulation or policy.
Little information as yet
What all this means is that at this point we do not have much information on how the details of the fire services reform proposed by Government will look.
Notwithstanding this, we are working hard on the issues we have identified and are anticipating others.
On 27 June, the Board and senior staff working on the reform process met for a full day workshop. Also attending were consultant Murray McKee who is working closely with Director Bill Butzbach on this project, and Bruce Kitto, who is a Director of FRFANZ with whom we have formalised a Memorandum of Understanding evidencing our intent to work together in the future.
NZ Fire Service Commission Board Chairman Paul Swain attended our consultation for a short period along with Chief Executive and National Commander Paul Baxter.
Two key areas of concern
Despite the inhibiting factors noted earlier, the workshop was productive. Two key areas of concern were identified - the need to cement the role of UFBA as the acknowledged advocate of the current membership into the future, and the way in which the ‘direct relationship’ proposal set out in the Cabinet paper issued earlier would ‘look’ and be enacted or introduced.
The outcome of discussion on those topics was that we would urgently:
a) Seek to establish a Memorandum of Understanding with the NZFSC Board to cement formally the role of UFBA as the representative advocate for the current membership, and
b) That having already clearly expressed our concerns of the potential implications of a ‘direct relationship’ between volunteer brigades and the new FENZ organisation at all levels, we would seek an early meeting with the Minister to convey and reinforce our members’ views on this matter.
The workshop concluded that sound strategies and actions in readiness of the tabling of legislation had been produced.
Partnership with FRFANZ
Approximately 25% of rural fire forces in New Zealand are UFBA members.
Forest and Rural Fire Association of New Zealand (FRFANZ) is a national association that represents people and organisations concerned with fire and fire protection in forests and rural areas.
I am pleased to report the UFBA and FRFANZ are now working together in close partnership to benefit our members during the fire services reform.
To keep up-to-date with the fire services reform visit www.dia.govt.nz/Fire-Services-Transition
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