Value of fire brigades gets Government backing
The value of the more than 10,000 volunteer men and women who fight fires and provide emergency services throughout New Zealand has been recognised in the proposed $303 million funding for the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).
George Verry, chief executive of the United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA), says in 2014 an independent business assessment of the work of the volunteers valued their annual financial worth to New Zealand’s fire and emergency services at $530 million.
“We are delighted the funding for FENZ recognises volunteer firefighters throughout the country are a good investment for the Government,” George Verry says. “We are also pleased that the history, independence and legal structure of many of the brigades has been recognised.”
The UFBA is making a significant contribution to the group that is working on how to merge and modernise fire and emergency services for the country. The group is developing the legislation around the reforms and the policies and processes that will flow from this to set up FENZ. The new legislation is expected to be introduced to Parliament soon and be opened for public submission later this year.
Under the new legislation it is proposed paid and volunteer workers will retain their existing entitlements.
While the UFBA will not be mentioned directly in the new legislation to establish FENZ, the funding statement says “it is important for volunteers to have access to independent advocacy and support, Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be able to fund organisations providing these services at no cost to volunteers”.
George Verry says it is good that as well as funding, the history and structure of its member brigades is also seen as important to protect and emulate.
The funding statement says transitioning to a unified fire service will also impact on volunteer brigades and fire forces, many of which have their own distinct legal entities.
“Some are unincorporated entities that rely on sections within current fire legislation, while others are incorporated societies, and others are registered charities or charitable trusts. Fire services will continue to be organised into sensible, effective units, like the current Brigade and Rural Fire Force structures to ensure that local identity is protected,” the statement says
“The announcement confirms the big picture, but also identifies there is a lot more work to be done,” George Verry says. “Notwithstanding this, we are pleased with the progress to date.”
More information about the Fire Service Transition can be read here
For more information contact:
Chief Executive Officer
United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand (UFBA)
P: 04 237 2681
M: 0274 533 841
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