The most recent reviews of the Fire Service (Swain 2012) and (Dunne 2015) recognised that any changes would only be successful if the perspective of communities are included to inform and influence the structure, methods of operation and the work of any future organisation. This more outward looking and inclusive approach is seen as critical to growing a stronger more influential organisation that is both reflective and supportive of the communities it serves. UFBA/FRFANZ management agree strongly with this view.
This approach is reflected in the way Fire and Emergency New Zealand has implemented much of its design work since July 2017. For example, our own internal community of Associations which include your voices through the UFBA and FRFANZ, and other FENZ personnel through their various unions are contributing daily to getting the show on the road. We have to-date had significant influence in the journey ahead. Our experience so far indicates this will continue to be the case.
The Fire and Emergency NZ Act provides for the establishment of Local Advisory Committees (LACs) as a way to ensure that community voices, interests and needs are well represented, understood and taken into account in FENZ local planning. Local brigades are highly visible in the community. The main purpose of the LACs is to provide advice from a local perspective, to the FENZ Board. Five functions of the LACs are specified in the Act which includes to consider and promote the interests of the volunteers and industry brigades operating in the local area. This arrangement ensures that multiple channels of communication reach key decision makers unhindered.
LACs will operate in a strictly advisory capacity. They will have no governance or management authority. This requirement addresses many of the concerns expressed by member brigades in the past.
In 2016, the UFBA and FRFANZ jointly submitted to the select committee established to inform the development of the Fire and Emergency Act 2017. Within that submission we expressed some of the concerns expressed by our brigade members about the LAC concept. We conceded that if LACs were to be established, they should be integrated with and reflective of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, now well established. In other words, use the existing CDEM Groups and their expertise supplemented with other members drawn from communities of interest to have useful input into FENZ planning.
FENZ are required to consult the public on establishing boundaries for LACs before they are established. This process has started. Submissions are due 18th May 2018.
FENZ have considered a number of options and propose that LAC Boundaries be aligned with Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups (CDEM Group). Our recommendation to UFBA/FRFANZ members is to support this proposal. We also recommend that we strongly emphasise the need to determine just how the LAC’s will connect in a practical way with volunteer brigades.
We invite you to provide feedback to us before we submit a joint UFBA/FRFANZ submission.
Keep an eye on your inbox for our survey inviting you to have your say.
Bill Butzbach, UFBA Chief Executive Officer
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