Our Advocacy and Support Service remains available to all those who need support through conflict, disputes and complaints. Please call 0508 832 269.
We will update this page with information on the Coronavirus/COVID-19 that is relevant to our services, throughout this current global pandemic crisis.
For all Fire and Emergency Operational updates please visit their open Portal page at https://portal.fireandemergency.nz/covid-19/. Use the relevant headers for specific information.
Government and business advice - For self employed volunteers and others impacted in their employment, including general information on what Level 4 restrictions mean, see here for further information.
- COVID-19 Support for Employers - https://workandincome.govt.nz/products/a-z-benefits/covid-19-support.html
- COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme - https://covid19.govt.nz/businesses-and-employees/employees/#wage-subsidy-scheme
- Essential Workers Leave Scheme - https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/other-types-of-leave/coronavirus-workplace/essential-workers-leave-scheme/
- Where to go for Services and Support https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/newsroom/2020/covid-19/where-to-go-for-services-and-support.html
- Psychological Wellbeing
Do you have any unanswered questions about service and Covid 19?
We are supporting Fire and Emergency to spread important operational messages. But we want this to be two way and have engaged representatives on the FENZ Covid-19 working group to help raise your questions on behalf of the UFBA.
If there is information you cannot find on the FENZ portal page (here https://portal.fireandemergency.nz/covid-19/) then drop a question to our regional UFBA Covid-19 rep:
Te Hiku (Region 1. Northland, Whangarei, Auckland)
Ngā Tai Ki Te Puku (Region 2. Hamilton, Thames, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne)
Te Ūpoko (Region 3. Napier, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Palmerston North, Wellington).
Te Ihu (Region 3. Nelson, Greymouth, Rolleston, Christchurch, Timaru)
Te Kei (Region 5. Queenstown, Dunedin, Invercargill)
- National representative/group convenor - Harry.Howard@fireandemergency.nz
Tuesday 12 May - UFBA Drivers Challenge 2020 cancelled
Further information here https://www.ufba.org.nz/news/ufba_drivers_challenge_2020_cancelled
Friday 17 April - lost wages covered if contract Covid on duty
We have been working with FENZ in response to volunteer member enquiries if they would be covered for lost wages if they contract the Covid 19 virus as a result of their work with FENZ. We are pleased to report that FENZ agreed today and details will be posted to the Covid page on the FENZ portal in the next few days.
Thursday 16 April - Dashboard email reports to volunteers
With so much currently oging on, FENZ have made the decision following feedback to temporarily pause the delivery of electronic reports that feature OSM status of members. To guage how members were feeling, and test the extent of some intial pushback, national UFBA rep Nigel Liley surveyed brigade leaders. Majority supported leaving these off in the meantime. If you wish to receive your dashboard in a different schedule, or wish to receive the orange/red light report – talk to your Region Planning and Performance Officer or Manager. If you are not sure who this is, liaise with your Area Commander. N.B.: These reports won’t be emailed out until the dust settles, and things are back to near normal.
Tuesday 14 April - emergency taskforce
The UFBA office has been fielding a number of phone calls around volunteers being approached to potentially form part of a task force in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown. Clarification has been sought from Fire and Emergency NZ around this.
They emphasise that this is pre-planning and they need to understand the capability of the organisation regardless of current events.
It is without a doubt we are in unprecedented times, and that will come as no surprise to any of you. Fire and Emergency NZ must be able to demonstrate the ability to respond to any event, at any time. If a large scale disaster (e.g. a large Earthquake) were to occur in the current climate, the staff that would normally plan and assemble a task force are already busy managing Covid-19 procedures.
This is why Fire and Emergency NZ has been pre-planning for such an event. The likelihood of such a task force actually being deployed is of course very low.
Consideration to personal circumstances should be given before registering for a task force – for example a volunteer living on their own on stand down from work is a more obvious choice for a task force than someone at home with a large family.
I hope this clarifies your questions.
Nigel Lilly, UFBA Covid-19 Rep
Wednesday 01 April - get your flu vaccinations!
Flu vaccinations are now available for Fire and Emergency operational personnel!
While the flu vaccine won’t protect you against COVID-19, it will help to protect you from getting the flu, which infects around one quarter of New Zealanders each year. Reducing the risk of flu hitting our frontline personnel means keeping our capability strong, and doing our bit to reduce any additional pressure on our health system caused by flu.
There are different ways to access flu vaccinations, depending on if you are a FENZ volunteer or employee.
Volunteers can find information on the portal, or at the link below: https://demo.vitalityhub.co.nz/fenz
Employees can find information at the Flu Vaccinations COVIC-19 Portal page: https://portal.fireandemergency.nz/covid-19/2020-free-flu-vaccinations
All other non-operational FENZ personnel will be able to access the flu vaccination as normal, when it is made available to the general public.
If you have questions, please contact Flu@fireandemergency.nz or call 04 498 5667
Wednesday 25 March - Staff priorities, webinars and Covid-19 rep contacts
How is the UFBA responding to the situation?
We know how important our services are for networking and maintaining community relationships. It’s important we understand this will be a temporary hiatus. In the meantime we’re looking to innovate and find opportunities to work differently throughout this pandemic, including:
- exploring ways to deliver workshops through video conferencing, like a webinar so you can still benefit from the toolbox of approaches around leadership and wellbeing.
- planning a new blog with practical advice to support your training for next season’s challenge events.
- assessing our service honours offering and how we can make this more accessible, easy to understand and streamlined.
The office staff continue to provide our important advocacy service for those experiencing conflict, disputes or raising complaints, and our support services including Accident Assurance Scheme and Benevolent Fund. We are also continuing to work in the background (albeit from our homes) on key projects including:
- Website which will also be linked to the database and new fire shop
- New policies in line with the modernised constitution adopted last AGM
- Our Membership Advisory Panel to help improve your connection with the UFBA Board and informing decision making.
- Would you be interested in joining a UFBA Webinar?
Already we've seen the value in online working for many office workers across New Zealand. While this sadly cannot help everyone to work, it does provide an opportunity for online learning. We'd like you to tell us whether you would be interested?
Please complete our very quick and simple survey on webinars here - just two questions and it should take less than two minutes! Please respond by end of Sunday 29 March.
Staying up to date
Further explanation, including why we cannot postpone our cancelled events, can be found on our Covid-19 updates page here: https://www.ufba.org.nz/covid_19_updates
Thank you for all the support you’ve shown our staff and UFBA volunteers.
We know this is a difficult time for many. Kia kaha! Stay strong
From your UFBA team -
Bill, Stephen, Julia, Angela, Nick, Susan, Megan D, Jane, Megan L, Lisa, Holly and Tearo
Tuesday 24 March - RCR and all upcoming workshops cancelled
Challenge events – RCR cancelled
In line with tighter restrictions across New Zealand we have had to cancel both Road Crash Rescue events on 22-23 May in Christchurch and 26-27 June in Feilding. At present we continue to plan for Drivers in late August and will make any necessary revisions as the situation develops, if necessary.
This follows suit with the recent cancellations of North Island and National Combat Challenge events.
Please bear with our events team during this challenging time. Much of their energy and time is spent in planning and booking the logistics far in advance. Their time will now be spent unravelling their hard work to limit and reduce the financial impact.
All upcoming planned workshops will be cancelled.
These remain a core part of our service and address an important need in our brigades - we will look to confirm new dates and venues as soon as the situation allows.
All those booked onto upcoming workshops will be kept on a waiting list and advised further, when we can. For the immediate moment further registrations will be closed.
Stopping social gatherings and Honours Awards Presentations
As the country responds to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases from community transmission, we must all help to minimise the risk of infection. All brigades must now postpone Honours Awards presentations for the next four weeks and anticipate ongoing restrictions for the foreseeable future.
Our priority must be to ensure the operational function of brigades during this time of crisis. With patience and Kiwi resilience, we’ll get through this and make sure our brigade members get the recognition they deserve – when it is safe to do so.
Monday 23 March - operational guidance in response to Govt announcement
Click here for an important update or download below - national notice from FENZ NAtional Commander Kerry Gregory..
Sunday 22 March - operational guidance from FENZ CE Rhys Jones
- Latest announcement about working arrangements and operational instruction recommending to use BA instead of APRs.
Friday 20 March - national operational notice from FENZ
Very important notice to all brigades (click here). From Fire and Emergency NZ National Commander Kerry Gregory.
Please see notice in the downloads at the bottom of this page.
Thursday 19 March - Australasian Road Crash Rescue cancelled
The ARRO Executive, in consultation with QFES, have taken the unprecedented move of cancelling this year’s Australasian Rescue Challenge due to the current outbreak of COVID-19. Although early days, ARRO are confident that ARC'21 will pick up where ARC'20 left off and again it will be held in Toowoomba at dates to be determined in July 2021.
Thursday 19 March - further clarification on cancellation of Combat Challenges
Some members have asked why we are not postponing our events instead of cancelling.
Cancellation of events is not a decision we make lightly. Before deciding to cancel we looked at all alternative options to try and continue business-as-usual as much as possible.
We’ve tried to anticipate any further questions you may have around our events and responding to Covid-19, but please do get in touch if you have any further questions.
1. Did you consider postponing rather than cancelling the Combat events
Funding does not allow - Our funding is based upon budgets agreed with Fire and Emergency, our primary funder, that runs from beginning of July to end of June each year. FENZ reimburse us for services delivered against actual costs, rather than receive bulk funding for events. This avoids accruing money from one year to the next. Also were we to postpone events into the next financial year we would need to upfront deposits etc from members’ limited cash reserves.
Events team capacity - Much of the work that goes into events is in the months far ahead of the day. In order to postpone we would need to work on plans and preparations now, at the same time as other events we are running – including our large conference at the end of the year. Put simply our small team does not have capacity to do so and this would require extra personnel resource we do not have, nor have funding to acquire. Our focus needs to be on Conference between now and delivery at the end of October, early November.
Limiting financial costs - Since the nature of Covid-19 is fluid and uncertain we also need to limit the potential financial loss of making further replacement bookings with non-refundable deposits. It would be irresponsible of us to risk membership and funder money and there are already large financial commitments in place already that we will need to recoup.
Alternative indoor venues to limit exposure - Regarding the option of indoor venues – Claudelands is the only potentially viable option and this has been previously explored by staff and Technical panel. This was found to have its own risks, including a height proximity to the tower and the ceiling, making this unsuitable. The much higher costs of this venue would also make this option unavailable.
- There are still so many unknowns about Covid-19 - If we postpone we have to commit even more of our limited resources to events that may still be cancelled – this would not be sensible nor responsible. We simply do not know when the pandemic and restrictions will end but we will continue to monitor advice from government and Fire and Emergency as and when. So far our decision has been the same as most other large events planned across New Zealand with other organisers responding similarly.
2. Will the events be running next year?
The events form an important part of our role at UFBA and have been for over 140 years! We anticipate them going ahead and will be planning next seasons events which do not start until January 2021. Use this time to train, train, train towards beating your PBs!
3. We are interested in being a Host for future UFBA Challenges, do I still apply?
Yes please. See host documents available on our website.
4. We are interested in being an Official at a future UFBA Challenge, do I still apply?
We maintain a team of dedicated volunteer officials. The UFBA Events Team will continue to send a call for officials for Challenges when required, so this will not change.
5. Will competitors be refunded their registration fees?
Yes, all competitors who have registered for the North Island and National Combat Challenge will be refunded their full registration fee. We thank you for your patience while the events teamwork through this.
6. Can’t you just use more sanitiser?
We put in place these measures at South Island Combat, however, with the growing number of cases this not enough mitigation since it is not enforceable to protect the numbers of people attending. Even one suspected infection could potentially render a brigade member – and all those they interact with – out of action through self-isolation. We need firefighters to be able to turn out for their communities and cannot with absolute certainty, safely and effectively manage the risk around one attendee passing to others from across New Zealand whilst in attendance.
7. Will further 2020 Events (RCR, Drivers) be postponed or cancelled?
Covid-19 is an unprecedented fluid situation. We are seeing direction from government changing very rapidly in response. For the reasons above we would not postpone. A decision cannot be made yet on cancellation until further advice is given by government and there is confidence that restrictions will not in place. We will liaise with our primary funder Fire and Emergency throughout decision making.
8. What should I do with a trophy I currently hold?
Please return any trophies you have to the UFBA Office as soon as possible – please contact the team to discuss.
9. If I have any suggestions around future running of the events who do I contact?
Please send all suggestions to email@example.com
10. Will my Provincial Event go ahead?
The Provincial events are not run by the UFBA and so we can only offer advice. We would offer the same considerations as detailed above for the committees to make a decision. Please await information from your Provincial leaders.
End of update.
Tuesday 17 March: Cancellation of UFBA events
I’m writing to update you all on how the UFBA staff and Board are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation. This is a global crisis none of us are immune to and while many of our services can continue throughout – our advocacy and support services including benevolent fund – we need to prioritise the health and safety of our members and follow advice and policy.
North Island and National Combat Challenge – cancelled
Following direction from government, and subsequent discussion with Fire and Emergency NZ Executive Leadership Team, on the rapidly developing situation with Covid-19, we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel both the North Island Combat Challenge at Palmerston North on the 3-4 April and National Combat Challenge on 1-2 May in Wellington.
A number of important factors have been considered including a current travel ban by Fire and Emergency on all non-essential travel, lasting at least for the next two weeks.
Government direction is to avoid large social gatherings, particularly those that are unticketed, which could present potential risk through interaction with untraceable spectators from the public.
Furthermore, we considered any potential risk in bringing together large numbers of emergency first responders from across the country. We need to avoid contributing towards any risk around a need for firefighters to have to self-isolate and being unavailable to their communities.
We know you will be greatly disappointed and we share that disappointment. We all work hard to deliver these events – both the staff and our officials and committees - and know how much they mean to those who push themselves to achieve personal goals. However, we do not make this decision lightly and must do the right thing. It would be irresponsible for us to go against advice that puts any individuals - and subsequently, the communities you serve – at risk.
We will be refunding all competitor’s registrations fees and ask for your patience while our events teamwork through this. Thank you for your understanding.
Road Crash Rescue events – monitoring situation
Road Crash Rescue events are planned for in Christchurch in May and Feilding in June. We continue to monitor the situation and will keep you all posted.
Drivers Challenge takes place at the end of August. We will continue to monitor the situation and will advise you accordingly as the situation develops. At present this event is not cancelled.
Through agreement with Fire and Emergency we will continue to run our training and development workshops in Leadership, Leading Psychological Wellbeing and Secretaries and Treasurers, where this is in line with newly announced travel guidelines.
These take place in small isolated groups within a controlled environment and extra precautions and protocols can be put in place to manage hygiene. As this is a dynamic and fluid situation, if there is any change we will advise attendees accordingly.
Since the benefits of the workshops are still as crucial as ever – around improving leadership and mental wellbeing – we encourage you all to continue to register to attend. Should the situation change we will maintain a waitlist so you don’t miss out.
We are also exploring technology solutions to allow for remote learning.
All Honours Presentations are independent events the UFBA supports but does not run. The decision to hold the presentation is up to the organising committee of the brigade. We recommend following government and Fire and Emergency NZ advice. We encourage you to give careful consideration to:
- availability of a UFBA Official to present the UFBA Awards.
- if the whole brigade are in attendance this could result in self-isolation for all, should any potential attendees show symptoms.
- the ability to provide extraordinary hygiene precautions currently recommended for social interaction.
- attendance by those potentially at greater risk or with potential underlying health issues – evidence shows older members of communities suffer effects of the virus more.
We realise how important Honours Presentations are and this will be a difficult decision for brigades. We encourage you to consider postponement.
Continue simple steps
Government advice can be found here; https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus
Continue to practice good hygiene that avoids any infected droplets transferring from one person to another.
• Clean all surfaces with disinfectant.
• Sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue (and throw this in the bin).
• Wash your hands with soap and water.
You can get health advice from Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
Symptoms and precaution against influenza
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- a cough
- a high temperature (at least 38°C)
- shortness of breath.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. However, infections with mild symptoms such as cold-like symptoms or no symptoms are likely, but it’s not known how common this is.
Advice remains to stay away from all social gatherings if you are unwell.
Fire and Emergency have committed to cover the cost of flu vaccinations for all members – these are anticipated to be available from mid-April. We will support FENZ with communications on how to get yours.
While the flu vaccination will not protect you from COVID-19 it will at least reduce symptoms of influenza, and help address any confusion should symptoms develop.
Protecting mental wellbeing
The situation is rapidly changing and there are still many uncertainties and unknowns. With the government due to make further announcements, we will keep you all updated.
As we weather this storm we can still look out for each other. It is important to protect your own mental wellbeing during this period of anxiety. If anyone you know does need to self isolate we encourage you to check in with each other via phone or skype – self-isolation could be a lonely period but we don’t need to lose our sense of community.
- For ongoing updates please visit https://www.ufba.org.nz/covid_19_updates
For enquiries please contact:
- For events: firstname.lastname@example.org
- For Service Honours: email@example.com
- For Membership Support: firstname.lastname@example.org