Fire and Emergency NZ, Department of Conservation sign joint-agreement

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Fire and Emergency NZ, Department of Conservation sign joint-agreement

Fire and Emergency NZ Chief Executive Rhys Jones and Department of Conservation (DOC) Director-General Lou Sanson signed an Operational Service Agreement (OSA).

(L-R: Fire and Emergency CE Rhys Jones, DOC Director-General Lou Sanson)

 

Fire and Emergency NZ Chief Executive Rhys Jones and Department of Conservation (DOC) Director-General Lou Sanson signed an Operational Service Agreement (OSA) today, outlining the two organisations’ joint-agreement to firefighting on public conservation land.

Under the new legislation, responsibility for the 4R’s (reduction, readiness, response, and recovery) of fire on public conservation land transfers from DOC to Fire and Emergency NZ.

“DOC’s ability to provide skilled rural firefighting crews for campaign fires is a key element in how these large-scale fires are currently managed in New Zealand, and this agreement ensures this capability remains,” Mr Jones said.

“DOC and the urban and rural fire services have worked long and hard together for many decades and there’s always been a consistent desire to work together.”

“I’m personally very grateful for all the hard work and mutual goodwill that has gone into this agreement, and the generosity of spirit DOC have shown.”

“We have a lot more work ahead of us but it will be together, and I think the signing of this agreement really symbolises that.”

The OSA commits DOC to providing an agreed number of firefighting resources, including 330 firefighters, 66 team leaders, 70 regional and national incident management staff. 

DOC will pay Fire and Emergency New Zealand $1.9 million per annum to fund the costs of delivering the 4Rs on public conservation land, including fire prevention, research and awareness campaigns. As part of the OSA this figure must be reviewed on an annual basis.

The OSA also commits DOC to paying for the cost of all fire suppression when it originates on Public Conservation Land and Additional Land for which the Department has responsibility. 

DOC Director-General Lou Sanson said DOC had spent $13m on rural fire costs during the past rural fire season, which had also been its busiest in the past 13 years.

“Every dollar we spend on fire is a dollar that’s not spent on conservation, so we’re right behind Fire and Emergency NZ when it comes to fire prevention.”

Mr Sanson said DOC was taking a climate-change focus to its fire safety strategy, and would be focusing its resources in areas where the risks were biggest, such as Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough.

“We bring over 460 people to the pool. The benefit for us is what we get out of Coordinated Incident Management System (CIMS) training provided by Fire and Emergency, which is a really important skill for our rangers, so we’re in this for the long haul.”

Mr Jones also presented Mr Sanson with a Fire and Emergency New Zealand plaque to recognise the two organisations’ ongoing relationship.