UFBA sends briefing to all Members of Parliament

Issue date:

On International Volunteer Day, the UFBA has sent the below briefing to all MP's to help increase awareness of the importance role of volunteer firefighters in their communities. 

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The key points of this briefing are:

New Zealanders need to know…

  • 85% of FENZ’s frontline firefighters are volunteers. These are highly-trained people who provide 24-7 support to communities across New Zealand and take a very professional approach to their role.
  • Volunteer firefighters respond across 93% of New Zealand. They are often first on the scene in an emergency – from road crashes to medical events and floods.
  • The current industrial action is only being taken by employed firefighters – volunteers continue to provide emergency response across the country.
  • The current pay dispute between the NZPFU and FENZ is only relevant to employed firefighters.
  • NZ’s population is not large enough to afford a fully paid firefighters’ service – we need our volunteers.

UFBA has concerns…

  • Like everyone in New Zealand, we want the country’s c. 1,700 employed firefighters to have fair and equitable conditions and we want the current pay dispute settled as quickly as possible.
  • We must ensure the funds for any settlement do not further erode the resources available to New Zealand’s 12,000 volunteer firefighters. We have advised Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti that the funding to settle the NZPFU dispute must not come from existing funding for volunteers.
  • The government’s current $10-million a year contribution to FENZ is nowhere near enough and it needs to increase.
  • The lack of financial resources currently means volunteers are not given the same support and resources as employed firefighters. Examples of this include:
    • Rehabilitation support for volunteers injured on duty is substantially less to the support provided to employed firefighters.
    • ACC does not cover mental trauma experienced by volunteer firefighters on duty, or chronic workplace illness because their contribution is considered in law to be a leisure activity.
    • Volunteer firefighters have a lessor uniform matrix and their trucks and equipment are of a lower standard than that provided to employed firefighters.
  • Demands on our volunteer firefighters are expected to increase due to climatic conditions, such as vegetation fires and floods.
  • The Government continuing to accept this as acceptable treatment for emergency volunteers who are on call 24/7 is deplorable.