Facts about UFBA’s sector advocacy for volunteers
Our close relationship with FENZ meant we were asked to review the recently published consultation document on the proposed structure and approach to rank prior to its embargoed release. Changes were made following our submission and you can now have your say direct to Fire and Emergency or contribute to the submission we’ll be sending.
Thank you to all those who have already provided feedback via our survey (more information and a link here).
Here’s what we said.
UFBA said: That any implications for volunteers needs to be made clearer, including where FENZ are drawing the line in terms of who is affected and impacted.
FENZ changed: The proposal is now clearer on where the proposal stops (ie. just before CFO and Controller) and doesn’t impact them other than potential changes in reporting line).
UFBA said: That the proposal needs to show FENZ’s clear support for volunteerism, including implementation of the Volunteerism Strategy throughout all levels of the organisation and weaving in support for volunteers needs in the position descriptions for proposed key roles such as the District Managers and their direct reports.
FENZ changed: Volunteerism is now better acknowledged in the proposal and in the position descriptions for new roles.
UFBA said: That the hierarchy of decision making for appointments needs to be made clearer regarding who can apply for certain roles (i.e. how affected people would be treated; and when others internally/externally can apply for positions while taking into account the Employee Transition Protocol etc).
FENZ changed: This information has now been added by FENZ where changes in positions are identified in the proposal.
UFBA said: That rank names be reconsidered (the draft suggested Captain and Major) because the term “Chief” is a term most western societies associate with fire and emergency services leaders and FENZ needs to make it easy for the customer (NZ Public) to understand where people fit into the machine. Military and Police titles don’t fit and its difficult to benchmark across.
FENZ changed: The final proposal has suggested rank names of Chief Officer and Deputy Chief Officer for District Manager and Group Manager. Whilst this may align with international practice, and it makes sense to drop “fire” from the title given the much broader mandate of FENZ, we believe this to be confusing given the current title of Chief Fire Officer leading a brigade. Perhaps using the title “District Chief Officer” provides a clearer indication of where these Chiefs fit in and is less likely to be confused with “local brigade” leadership. We encourage Members to come forward with other ideas if you have them.
UFBA said: That the Competency Framework (and support through it) be open to all FENZ personnel and that checks and balances are in place to ensure it is volunteer friendly (i.e. training times, training plans and considering relevant qualifications from a volunteer’s day job). That the transition process for the Framework needs further clarity.
FENZ changed: More information on the framework, its timeframe for development and interim arrangements is needed.
UFBA said: That the proposal shouldn’t just be about a Human Resource process but provide more context about why the change is happening and what type of organisation and culture is desired.
FENZ changed: The letter from the FENZ Chief Executive at the beginning now helps explain the FENZ story of change and that it can only be successful if the right people are in the right place in future.
UFBA said: That more clarity needed to be provided for FENZ contractors (FENZ Personnel in the legislation) who were barely mentioned, yet they are critical for operational support across the country and for international wildfire deployments.
FENZ changed: FENZ Contractors are now mentioned in the FAQs. Further clarity may be required.
UFBA said: That the UFBA and FRFANZ should be added to support for staff.
FENZ changed: UFBA has been added in the final proposal. FRFANZ should have been added as well by FENZ.
UFBA said: That any potential institutional bias against rural be removed to recognise their specialist rural competence and proficiency.
FENZ changed: How this is going to be addressed remains to be seen.
Other UFBA feedback included that:
- FENZ must be staffed with the right capability and that a stronger emphasis on behavioural competency was needed to sit alongside technical competency;
- An early commitment to mental health resources to support immediate targeted risks is important;
- The place of rank above the fire station needs to be further considered (i.e. if it is needed and in in what circumstances specifically); and
- Auckland was singled out for special attention but so too should extreme rural communities that are vulnerable from a risk perspective.
Overall, we were pleased to see how many of our suggestions were included in the final document.
We encourage Members to get involved and have your say. You can do this directly with FENZ and/or be part of the UFBA’s national submission so the volunteer voice truly reflects your views.
Bill Butzbach, UFBA CEO
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