UFBA advocates to support the retention of Newlands VFB within Newlands

  Posted on 10th February 2020 by Nick Cottrell in UFBA blog, UFBA News

UFBA advocates to support the retention of Newlands VFB within Newlands

Since the 1950s the Newlands Community, like many across New Zealand, recognised the need to form their own fire brigade, doing so in 1965. Much of the reasoning at the time still exists – Newlands even today remains a thriving community with some of the fastest growth seen in New Zealand. It also has certain vulnerabilities including access via potentially earthquake susceptible bridges, surrounded by dense scrub and gorse and adjacent to State Highway 1’s busy Ngauranga Gorge.

And yet despite the community need and hard work of generations of Newlands-residents, their local brigade has had to challenge three proposals to disestablish or consolidate them with local Johnsonville composite brigade. Now, at a point where their dilapidated station sits on land  Wellington City Council wants to use for car parking – and despite the land originally being gifted by the Newlands Recreation Club in 1958 to house the Wellington Fire Police Unit (later to become the NVFB) – they yet again face proposals for their relocation.

The brigade have been offered three ‘options’ by Fire and Emergency. To close the station and disestablish the brigade, to co-locate the brigade at busy Johnsonville Composite Station alongside the Johnsonville Volunteers or the brigade’s preferred option of relocating to a new site. The preferred option for FENZ is relocation to Johnsonville.

The UFBA has been called upon to support Newlands VFB with preparing a submission to Fire and Emergency in reply to the proposals.

Testimony from a number of interested parties including residents associations, local MPs, Ngā Hau e Whā o Paparārangi Marae and the Newlands Resilience Group gives compelling reasoning for retaining the brigade. First and foremost is the enduring need for sustainable community resilience and the important working relationships this very active brigade has with the local community. Second is the evidence of their contribution of over 100 call outs per year, often in support of local Johnsonville and Tawa brigades as well as backup into Wellington City or North to Petone and the Hutt Valley. During weekday office hours Newlands is the nearest pump to Johnsonville for back up purposes.

The threat to the brigade raises key points that are fundamental to not just the community but also Fire and Emergency’s long-term priorities and national strategy. The community needs to maintain capability to respond to incidents in all eventualities. The community has for many years been calling for a facility where multiple local groups concerned with Civil Defence matters can work together on a daily basis.  With the agreement of the brigade we’ve proposed a different option – to co-locate the brigade with collaborative organisations in a new ‘Fire, Emergency and Community Safety Hub’, part funded by FENZ, the Council and the wider community - that addresses the wider needs of the community and those committed to protecting it.

Advocating for our member brigades is an important part of the UFBA’s purpose, to ensure you have a listening ear and voice to speak on your behalf. The Newlands VFB and UFBA have decided to share this important work with all member brigades.

A copy of the submission to Fire and Emergency is available for members to view below.


UFBA and Newlands VFB Submission
Download File (pdf, 1MB, last modified February 10 2020)

1 Comment

12 Feb 20

Nice that UFBA is supporting this but it’s submission is largely emotional.

Its ‘business case’ doesn’t mention where the money will come from for its proposed “Community Resilience Hub”.

It underspins the costs of renting an interim commercial facility “...rental charges would be equivalent to 1 FTE administrator…” Either administrators are paid a lot more than I thought or this doesn’t include the cost of fitting out an interim facility to the minimum standard required for an operational standard.

The medical response argument is invalid - not much more than grasping at straws - Newlands is either a FR station or it is not. There are many station that have additional unrecognised medical capabilities. This argument is also contrary to FENZ and UFBA’s backtracking away from medical response due to the allegedly mental health risks for firefighters. I’d also suspect that that those ATP-holders in the Newlands Brigade have to organisational mandate to deliver training to FF, potentially placing both Wellington Free and FENZ at risk should this go wrong.

If a UFBA submission lacks substance and is based solely on emotion, it is easily discounted. This submission should be withdrawn and redrafted to focus on cold hard facts and dollar signs.

For the record, I think that a station should be retained in Newlands but someone needs to identify where the money (because that’s what it all comes down to) is going to come from…

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