A key purpose of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand legislation (Section 36) is to provide additional support for fire and emergency services volunteers to ensure volunteerism is sustainable and continues to keep people safe and secure in their local communities.
Aligning to the UFBA’s commitment to sustainable volunteerism, Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand, was appointed as the independent UFBA Director to replace Bill Butzbach when he took up the role of UFBA Chief Executive Officer. Scott has been actively involved in Fire and Emergency New Zealand transition work over the last three years
At the 2017 UFBA Conference in Auckland on 27 October in the presence of UFBA Chair Rick Braddock and Fire and Emergency New Zealand Chair Paul Swain and Chief Executive Rhys Jones, Bill and Scott signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UFBA and Volunteering New Zealand to record the intention of both parties to work collaboratively to benefit volunteers and volunteerism in New Zealand.
Pictured: UFBA and Volunteering New Zealand sign a Memorandum of Understanding to work collaboratively. From left at the back: UFBA Chair Rick Braddock, Fire and Emergency New Zealand Chair Paul Swain and Chief Executive Rhys Jones. Front: UFBA Chief Executive Officer Bill Butzbach and Volunteering New Zealand Chief Executive Scott Miller.
Immense value of volunteer contributions
Bill says the UFBA commissioned Esperance Capital in November 2014 to provide an estimated valuation of the volunteer firefighter contribution to New Zealand urban and rural communities.
“The conclusion was an incredible annual contribution value of $529 million.
“Our volunteer fire and emergency services personnel therefore contribute significantly to the value of volunteer labour in organisations in New Zealand which contributes $3.5 billion  a year to our country’s economy.”
Bill adds that more New Zealanders are stepping forward to volunteer but the total time committed to volunteering has reduced by 42%. 
“This means there is a trend towards short episodic volunteering whereas our volunteers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week which demands extra commitment and sacrifice.”
Scott says that New Zealand’s most successful volunteer-involving organisations are those that are ensuring they remain fit-for-purpose for their volunteers’ time and efforts.
“The competition for good volunteers is increasing, which means organisations that want to succeed need to make sure they are offering the right value proposition for volunteers across ages and life-stages,” he adds.
We will foster and support volunteerism
With UFBA collaborating with Volunteering New Zealand under the MoU along with working together with our partner organisation the Forest and Rural Fire Association (FRFANZ), we have a single powerful voice to represent our members on:
- Developing a viable brigade structure to ensure the sustainability of fire and emergency services in local communities
- Ensuring Section 36 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act is implemented in full to achieve a ‘better deal for volunteers’ as there is a duty on Fire and Emergency New Zealand under the Act “to take reasonable steps … to recognise, respect, and promote the contribution of FENZ volunteers.”
- Advocating for best practice in policy and organisational arrangements that encourage, maintain and strengthen the capability of volunteers
- Advocating for the rights of volunteers to be explicitly recognised in other applicable legislation, for example, the Health and Safety at Work Act
- Promoting volunteerism as a vocation in communities which will help enrich the diversity of brigades and rural fire forces.
Bill emphasises that New Zealand depends on our volunteer culture of fire and emergency services protecting their local communities with the right people and the right resources.
“Retaining our unique firefighting volunteer culture is worth fighting for,” he says.
“Under our respective MoUs with Volunteering New Zealand and FRFANZ, the UFBA will continue to work hard to foster and support sustainable volunteer firefighting in New Zealand.”
Click here for more about Volunteering New Zealand
 Statistics New Zealand, Non-profit Institutions Satellite Account 2013, p.8 and p.12
 Statistics New Zealand, The contribution of non-profit institutions in New Zealand (infographic), at http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/economic_indicators/NationalAccounts/non-profit-satellite-infographic.aspx
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