Message from George Verry, Chief Executive Officer
Urban and rural firefighter representative organisations are working together to ensure volunteer firefighters have a single powerful voice
Urban and rural volunteer firefighters make up 80 percent of New Zealand’s fire services. Their representative organisations, the United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) and the Forest and Rural Fire Association (FRFANZ), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to make sure fire brigades and rural fire forces have a single united voice as fire and emergency services transition to a new unified organisation.
Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne has introduced legislation to establish Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ). This will provide the legal framework needed to bring together more than 40 separate organisations, over 600 fire brigades and rural fire forces, more than 12,000 volunteers, and approximately 3000 paid staff into the single new organisation.
Mr Dunne says the bill enables the provision of independent advocacy services and support for volunteers, at no charge to them – “the exact role FRFANZ has provided for almost thirty years, and the UFBA for more than a century”.
“FENZ will develop a framework for supporting volunteers, based on modern volunteer principles. Increased support for volunteers recognises their contribution, while not detracting from the support given to the paid workforce,” he says.
UFBA Chairman Rick Braddock says, “Although there have been other reviews of our fire services in the last 40 years, this is the first to result in completely new legislation that will lead to better, more sustainable emergency services for New Zealand communities.
“The aim of the agreement between UFBA and FRFANZ is to unite people, in particular volunteers, who are dedicated to the common cause of protecting lives and property in their communities throughout the country.”
FRFANZ Chairman Kevin Ihaka says, “Volunteers in both organisations share many of the same issues so our aim is to work together to ensure the best outcomes while still recognising differences within our sectors.
“This is an opportunity to manage positive change by unifying the voices of all volunteers no matter where they are from.”
The intention behind combining UFBA and FRFANZ advocacy into a single powerful voice representing collective fire and rescue services personnel closely follows the Government’s rationale in setting up the new unified fire and emergency services organisation.
The agreement will enable UFBA and FRFANZ to facilitate the extensive consultation needed with fire brigades and rural fire forces during the various stages of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill as it translates into policy and regulation.
Left to right: UFBA Chairman Rick Braddock and FRFANZ Chairman Kevin Ihaka sign the MOU, Minister Peter Dunne and New Zealand Fire Service Commission Board Chair Paul Swain.
About the Forest and Rural Fire Association
The Forest and Rural Fire Association (FRFANZ) represents people and organisations concerned with fire and fire protection in forests and rural areas throughout New Zealand.
FRFANZ develops and provides communication links between all those involved in rural fire from firefighters to administrators at National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA) and Rural Fire Authorities (RFAs). For more information visit www.frfanz.org.nz
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