Message from UFBA Chief Executive Officer Bill Butzbach
The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 (Sections 31 – 35) enables the Board to prescribe physical and psychological health standards to ensure operational personnel can perform duties that may be required of them without undue risk to their safety, health and wellbeing.
The Act also says that the design and development of health standards must involve consultation with the Associations and Unions that represent or advocate on behalf of operational personnel. These are:
- United Fire Brigades’ Association
- Forest and Rural Fire Association of New Zealand
- New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union
- Fire and Rescue Commanders Association
- Public Service Association.
The Fire and Emergency NZ Board has asked for recommendations on the design and development of health standards by July 2018.
The Fire and Emergency NZ Safety, Health and Wellbeing project team has started to look at what the ‘health standards for operational personnel’ mentioned in the new legislation might mean for our members.
Working party: UFBA/FRFANZ representatives
A working party including representatives from the five Associations and Unions representing personnel and senior operational managers has been formed to work with the Safety, Health and Wellbeing project team.
I am delighted UFBA Deputy Chair Glenn Williams is representing the interests of UFBA members on the working party. Kevin Ihaka is representing FRFANZ members.
The working party has had an initial meeting and has agreed health standards will include physical health and fitness—in line with operational risks related to physical safety, work-related health, and psychological wellbeing.
The main focus of the work will be to maintain members in their operational roles—career and volunteer—wherever possible.
A range of support options will be looked at where work-related health and wellbeing risks are detected early.
Timing of any further work will be considered by the Fire and Emergency NZ Board following their review of the Working Party recommendations next year.
Glenn Williams and Kevin Ihaka are working closely on the health standards with Alison Barnes, Fire and Emergency NZ Integration Project, Safety, Health and Wellbeing Lead, and the Associations and Unions in the working party.
Fire and Emergency NZ has assured UFBA/FRFANZ a lot of work needs to happen before any decisions are made that affect our members and this will be done in close consultation with us.
Nothing will change in the meantime while this work is being undertaken.
We will keep you informed on progress.
27 July 2017
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