How do I make a complaint?

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

How do I make a complaint?

Contact the Behaviour and Conduct Office (BCO) for advice

If you experience, witness, or have any questions about unwanted interpersonal behaviour, you can contact the BCO directly. We’ll provide you with confidential guidance and advice that will help you take the right course of action for your situation.

There’s no ”wrong door” for seeking help and support, so it’s important to speak to someone you trust. It could be a colleague, your brigade/station leaders, your managers, Human Resources or a union representative. In fact, it can be anyone you feel comfortable discussing the situation with. The BCO is here to help anyone who approaches us, regardless of their circumstances.

Seek support

We understand that making a complaint can be challenging, for a number of reasons. Your safety and wellbeing is of utmost importance and is our primary concern. Support is available to people who raise a concern or complaint at all stages of the process. In addition to the range of agencies that are available to provide support, we encourage you to seek your own personal support at each stage of the process. This may be from whānau, friends or someone else you trust.

Making a complaint to the Behaviour and Conduct Office.

Complaints may be in writing or verbal. If possible, we recommend making complaints in writing and we can support people to do this. 

Mail: Behaviour and Conduct Office 

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

PO Box 2133 

Wellington 

Phone: 0800 470 951 (available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) 

Email: bco@fireandemergency.nz

The BCO can accept complaints directly from the person who has been affected by unwanted (interpersonal) behaviour or we can receive them from Human Resources, management, or a trusted friend or family member.

We encourage people to include as much information as possible, including:

  • dates, times and locations
  • name(s) of the person complained about and any potential witnesses
  • the details of the events that took place.
  • contact information

The best way to submit a complaint in writing is by using the Bullying and Harassment complaints form. This will ensure we get all the relevant information. The more details that are included the better.

To make a verbal complaint, call the BCO and we will work through this with you. You can also speak with someone else you trust and they can pass on the details of the complaint to the BCO.

What happens when I make a complaint?

The information you provide allows the BCO to contact you about your complaint and determine the next steps for resolving your complaint in a fair and transparent way.

Any personal information that you provide us will be confidential and will not be shared unless you give us your permission to do so, or where there is a risk of harm to you or someone else.

  • If we receive a complaint in writing our complaint advisor will call you to confirm we have received it and to clarify our understanding of the complaint.
  • If you want to submit a call verbally we will take a record of your concerns as you discuss them with us. We will then send a copy of your understanding of the complaint to you to confirm.
  • We will discuss your options. You can tell us at this point that you simply want to make us aware of the complaint and do not want anything else to happen, or that you want to proceed with the complaint process.
  • If you want to proceed with the complaint process, your case will be assessed by a BCO panel
  • We will advise you of the outcome of the assessment, this may be,
    • To refer elsewhere: That the matter would be better deal with through a different agency, and we would refer you to that agency
    • Facilitated approach: That we feel it may be appropriate to work through a facilitated approach and that we recommend this. This would be voluntary process and we would work with you to match the process to your needs.
    • Formal investigation: That we feel the matter required a formal investigation. This may be conducted by the BCO, or by an external investigator.
  • We will keep in contact with you throughout the complaint process.

What does the BCO do with my information?

The information you provide allows the BCO to contact you about your complaint and determine the next steps for resolving your complaint in a fair and transparent way.

Any personal information that you provide us will be confidential and will not be shared unless you give us your permission to do so, or where there is a risk of harm to you or someone else.

Help to make a complaint

You can raise your concern by yourself. You may require support through the initial process. This may be a friend or member of your whānau. Someone else can raise a complaint on your behalf. Alternatively, there are a couple of community organisations that may be able to help.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provide free, impartial, confidential support and information. For more information visit the CAB website or call them on 0800 367 222.
CAB can also provide help in languages other than English.

Community Law

Community Law provide free legal help. Visit the Community Law website to find your local Community Law Centre.

What sort of outcome can I expect through the BCO complaint process?

The BCO aims to provide an impartial and transparent process that treats all parties fairly. The BCO cannot guarantee what the outcome of your complaint will be, or whether it will be the outcome you are after.

Where possible the BCO will seek to work through complaint in a way that meets the needs of the people affected by the complaint. This is a voluntary process, and aims to resolve any problems at the lowest level of intervention possible.

Some complaints may be more serious and require a formal approach, including an investigation.  An impartial investigation may be carried out, based on evidence presented by all parties involved, resulting in a finding.  Depending on the circumstances, this can include disciplinary action.

Complaints that do not fall within the scope of unwanted interpersonal behaviour are referred to the appropriate team within Fire and Emergency (or to relevant external agencies in some cases) to respond to.

What if I am not satisfied with the outcome?

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the complaints process, you may be able to take further action with the following external organisations (depending on your circumstances):

  • the Human Rights Commission – for complaints about discrimination on one of the 13 grounds prohibited in the Human Rights Act and for sexual or racial harassment
  • WorkSafe – for complaints about a breach of the duty of care to take reasonable care to provide a safe workplace, e.g. workplace bullying
  • the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Mediation Services – to help resolve employment relations problems:
    • between the employee and the organisation, or
    • between two employees – if both parties agree, the employees can attend mediation to work out a way forward in which they can work together while upholding both parties’ rights
  • Volunteers can access the Dispute Resolution Scheme (DRS).
  • Employment Relations Authority – for employees to lodge a personal grievance (PG) for claims such as unjustified disadvantage or constructive dismissal. Note: This is for action against the employer, i.e. the organisation, not a person.