Board Update - August 2017

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Board Update - August 2017

The deployment is another positive example of our urban and rural people working together, alongside our Forestry and Department of Conservation partners.

The New Zealanders join crews from Australia, Mexico, and the United States who have been deployed to help their Canadian colleagues and you can read more about the deployment here.

Crew Leader Steve Ochsner also spoke to TV3 and Radio New Zealand about the conditions and you can listen to an interview with him here.

We wish them all the best for this tough but important work and look forward to their safe return home.

Congratulations to firefighter Rebecca Wood - World Champion

Our congratulations to Silverdale firefighter Rebecca (Becky) Wood who is a member of the Black Ferns rugby team that beat England in the World Cup Final 41-32 in Belfast, Northern Ireland recently. It was a thrilling game and fabulous result. Well done Rebecca – you have made us all proud. 

Minister of Internal Affairs to leave Parliament

The Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Dunne has announced he won’t be standing for Parliament at this year’s election. The Board would like to thank the Minister for his leadership and commitment to the fire reforms that led to the amalgamation of rural and urban fire on 1 July.

Amalgamating urban and rural fires services has been talked about for decades, but it required a committed Minister to steer the changes through Parliament. The changes the Minister has overseen will lead to better coordination between urban and rural fire, and ultimately to a safer New Zealand. We wish him well for his next challenge.  

At Waipukurau Volunteer Fire Brigade’s station, with members of the Tamatea and Elsthorpe Rural Fire Forces, and Area and Region staff.

Regional Board visit and meeting: 17 - 18 August, 2017

This month’s meeting was held in Hawke’s Bay, as part of our plan to link our meetings with regional visits wherever possible. Our recent visit included meeting Fire and Emergency staff and volunteers at Taradale, Hastings, Napier, Waipukurau, and Tamatea stations.

On-station it was really great to hear from career and volunteer crews about the community safety initiatives they have underway with smoke alarm installation and home fire safety checks. The Board was also encouraged to learn about improved local disaster planning with Fire and Emergency taking the lead with our partner agencies, which is very much in line with our expanded role. We also heard about steps being taken to co-locate urban and rural fire people where space permits.

Our thanks to the Area for organising the visit and to everyone who took the time to meet us. We’ll be following the progress of these local initiatives closely and look forward to more of these visits to other parts of the country over the next year.

At Napier City Station with the Duty Crew and Area and Region staff.

Rhys Jones with Area and Region staff at Clyde Depot. 

Out and about with the Chief Executive

Chief Executive Rhys Jones has made a major commitment to getting out to all five regions during his first few months on the job. While he may not be able to get to every station in the country, it is great to hear many station visits had also had representatives from neighbouring brigades and rural fire forces attending.

Rhys is keen to get your views on how things are going face-to-face, so please take the opportunity to meet him if one of these visits comes up near you.

Deputy Chair Nicki Crauford addresses attendees at the FRFANZ Conference. 

FRFANZ Conference

Earlier in the month Deputy Chair Nicki Crauford attended the Forest and Rural Fire Association of NZ (FRFANZ) Conference in Auckland on behalf of the Board. Nicki’s speech focused on work ahead for the integration phase– looking at what works, what could be better, where our strengths lie,  how we can build on the best of what we have – and what the Board wants to see by 2020.

Minister Dunne and our Chief Executive Rhys Jones also shared their views on the future of our new organisation with attendees. You can watch highlights and view copies of everyone’s presentations on our Portal.

Identity update

We are working on a plan to roll out our new branding around the country for property, uniform and fleet. While this will take time, it is important that our uniforms, stations and vehicles reflect who we are and our new organisation. We want to make sure our new brand is rolled out as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.


Fire and Emergency NZ has over 600 buildings. Our aim is to have the majority of our buildings carrying new external signs by the end of this year, because it signals we are part of a new, single organisation. In addition there are some properties where we want to assess the state of the building, e.g. where urgent maintenance may be needed before we add the signage, so that may take longer.

At the same time, we’ll be undertaking an audit of internal signage. We know there are many and varied signs on internal walls and doors that will need updating. This audit will help us make informed decisions about how and when we replace those signs.


You can order new shirts (both blues and the other colours worn by some rural personnel) with the new shoulder badges on them, or alternatively you can order new shoulder badges and switch out the old badges on your existing shirts. You can order through the Workwear online system, or talk to your manager.

In the longer term, we want to get your feedback on what a unified Fire and Emergency NZ uniform (non-PPE) should look like. We will be starting this conversation in the next couple of months with a series of workshops. We want to follow the approach we used to come up with the new identity. Everyone will have an opinion, and it’s important we get as much agreement as possible before we start placing orders. Keep an eye on the Portal’s news section for further details. The uniform discussion will be the first of many about what it means to be a unified organisation.


Fire and Emergency NZ has about 1750 vehicles with a very wide range of makes and models. A number of vehicles have already been re-branded and this includes all new additions to our fleet. Our next priority is to rebrand ‘white fleet’ vehicles that have been transferred from rural fire organisations. At the same time, we’re putting a programme together to determine how quickly we can get the majority of the fleet re-branded. 

Local Advisory Committee to be trialled in Hawke’s Bay 

The Board has approved a trial of a Local Advisory Committee (LAC) in Hawke’s Bay. The trial will build on the findings of the two successful LAC pilots run in Greater Auckland in late 2016 and Mid-South Canterbury earlier this year. 

LACs will not have any operational authority or control but will provide advice to the Board on their communities’ risks, issues and priorities. This advice will feed into Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s local and national planning.

The Hawke’s Bay trial will help us test the design of LACs in more detail.  Among other things it will help us better understand what skills and knowledge LAC members should have (appropriate for those communities), how the committees will be structured, how they will work with our organisation and how we will incorporate local input into our planning processes.

Recruitment update 

The Board is pleased to see good progress on recruiting more people to meet the needs of Fire and Emergency’s broader roles, particularly in supporting volunteers.

As part of the transition process, the Government approved additional funding for a number of new roles, 70% of which will be based in the regions to support regional teams, brigades and rural fire forces. Our aim is to have the majority of these roles recruited by the end of September.

To-date, 36 of these new roles have been filled or are under offer, with another 38 roles currently in the recruitment process. There’ll be another update on this next month. 

Two important Safety Health and Wellbeing documents coming your way

In the next fortnight all Fire and Emergency work places will be issued with a copies of our new Safety Health and Wellbeing Policy Commitment, and the Joint Endorsement Statement that was signed on Monday 3 July between Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the five unions and associations who directly represent our people.

Please take the time to ensure you’re familiar with the policy and what it means for you and your people.          

Planning for the integration phase: July 2017- July 2020

We’ve allowed for the first three months (July – September) to focus on detailed planning for our six Integration priorities: having an integrated organisation and operating model, safety health and wellbeing, resilient communities, risk reduction, volunteerism, and leadership across the sector. 

Essentially we need a new way of operating and organising ourselves, as one integrated fire and emergency service (our new operating model). We need to decide on how we can have greater flexibility in the way career stations, local brigades, and volunteer rural fire forces deliver this service, while maintaining the standards of a national, unified organisation. We will need to work out new fire and emergency boundaries and develop the associated command and control procedures.

At the same time we will need to make sure our people continue to come home safely after every incident and ensure they have the support to deal with the psychological stresses of traumatic incidents.

We need to continue working with local communities and our partners, through our LACs, and other means, to prepare us all for the emergencies and weather-related events that are going to increase in the coming years.

We will need to ramp up our approach to risk reduction. We need to make it easier for our volunteers to serve their local communities. We also need to support our leaders to take a greater leadership role across New Zealand’s emergency service sector.

We will keep you updated on our progress to achieve these aims. There is a lot of work to do over the next three years so it’s important we take this time to involve you in the planning, and to make sure we have the right people in place to deliver. 

50 Year Medals 

Congratulations to Dennis Alexander of Eltham Volunteer Fire Brigade, and John Collings of Taihape Volunteer Fire Brigade, who were awarded 50 Year Medals in August. Thank you Dennis and John for your outstanding service and commitment to your brigades and communities.

That’s all for now – look after yourselves and keep up the good work out there.