Yesterday, Fire and Emergency NZ released their document outlining the decisions they have made on the service delivery branch organisational structure and confirmed the approach to rank.
Key decisions include:
- Establishing 17 Districts across NZ led by 17 District Managers focused on increased community risk reduction, stakeholder engagement and implementing important strategies such as the “Volunteer Strategy”.
- Establishing 77 Group Manager positions to work across the 17 Districts with a primary responsibility to ensure stations and brigades receive the right level of support and operate in an empowered environment.
- A greatly increased focus on community risk reduction, readiness and recovery reflected in more personnel allocated to these important roles.
- Rank has relevance on the incident ground only.
- Position and rank are separated - Rank will be worn by those who have assessed competency. If personnel are not required for emergency response work, they will not hold rank.
- Future senior ranks will be Fire Commander and Assistant Fire Commander. Appointed personnel will not transition into these ranks until the “Technical Competency Framework“ is in place and personnel are assessed against it.
The National Commander has confirmed that station and brigade personnel will continue to be led by local leaders at station and brigade level and emergency responders will continue to wear rank.
How does this reflect UFBA Members submission last October?
Last year the UFBA gathered members feedback on the FENZ structural and rank proposals to provide a submission to Fire and Emergency, and we believe many of our recommendations have been heard. We wanted good support at Group Manager level to ensure volunteers could remain focussed on their work and not get caught up in doing administration. We wanted an assurance that specialist rural knowledge, skills and relationships were retained reflecting the needs of communities. We were generally supportive of rank being relevant to the incident ground only and that the naming conventions proposed required more thought. We argued for the introduction of a new more enabling and community centric leadership and management style and in order to support a positive culture, we recommended the need to incorporate a heavier weighting towards softer leadership skills, complemented by technical competency.
We also stressed the need to appoint the best possible people to the new roles and to broaden accessibility for other candidates, for example volunteers who may be suitable for the roles, to be able to apply drawing on their key transferable skills. While this view was not shared by all members the majority believed this was essential in recognising the commitment and community centric value volunteers bring to the service.
Building a unified culture
This is a divisive subject but a necessary first step to address the need for a more inclusive culture. When different agencies and cultures were brought together under the FENZ Act in 2017 we knew there had to be changes. The UFBA will continue to represent the interests of our members, and to ensure the best possible outcomes for all members.
As FENZ shape the new structure they must ensure those that fill the roles have both the necessary competency and leadership skills to take the organisation forward. We will keep you updated as this develops.
You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in (top right) or register.