New Zealand Professional Firefighters Collective Employment Agreement

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

New Zealand Professional Firefighters Collective Employment Agreement

Update on Collective Bargaining with NZ Professional Firefighters Union

Fire and Emergency New Zealand confirmed their settlement offer to New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union on Friday 8 April 2022. Fire and Emergency has been in bargaining with the NZ Professional Firefighters Union since June 2021 and the settlement offer reflects the substantial work both parties have put into this process.

The NZPFU bargaining team originally placed more than 100 claims on the table and the total cost of their claims exceeds $300m over a three-year term. Over the past several months FENZ has sought to understand the priorities for NZPFU members, and how the available funding can best be used to achieve these.

The offer reflects significant movement from Fire and Emergency across a range of matters. We believe the offer is a fair and reasonable one based on what Firefighters currently earn compared to other relevant roles internally and externally, and other recent settlements both internally and across the public sector.

Details of the offer include:

  •  A total 3.3% increase on the total current annual remuneration budget, across the whole settlement offer.
  • Increases to pay rates that includes annual market based increases plus pay scale adjustments for many. These result in pay increases for individuals ranging between 1.5% - 11%, targeted towards lower paid employees, but also increasing pay progression opportunities for many.
  • Backpay to 1 July 2021 including market movement and pay scale adjustments if ratified by 31 May 2022.
  • Confirmation that a further remuneration review for the 2022 remuneration year will occur, through the normal remuneration review process.
  • A significant number of other adjustments to financial and non-financial terms and conditions, in response to specific issues raised by NZPFU during the bargaining.

Pay and conditions for Firefighters

The Collective Agreement between Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union covers paid firefighters and station officers, communications centre staff, and other operational roles such as trainers, volunteer support officers, and advisors who deliver community readiness and risk reduction services to communities.

Fully Funded Training and Development

Trainee Firefighters need no previous qualifications and start with a fully funded 12-week residential course at our National Training Centre (NTC) in Rotorua. Upon successful completion, they graduate to Firefighter and are posted to a station.  Firefighters then work through a fully funded ongoing training and development programme while on the job, including NTC delivered modules, over the next two years to achieve progression to Qualified Firefighter.

Qualified Firefighters are then expected to continue their Fire and Emergency funded training and development through to Senior Firefighter over the next two years.  Most firefighters successfully complete the Fire and Emergency funded Senior Firefighter programme to achieve that rank within approximately five years at Fire and Emergency. 

Those with higher leadership aspirations can achieve Station Officer qualifications after two years at Senior Firefighter, upon successful completion of the Station Officer Programme. Senior Station Officer is the most senior operational firefighter response role below Group Manager.

Remuneration

The Trainee Firefighter salary of approximately $46,000 per annum reflects the commencement level of the role and the intensive investment in learning and development that takes new recruits with no firefighting experience through structured progression to Qualified Firefighter. The base salary for Qualified Firefighter is currently $58,400, and for Senior Firefighter it is $65,000.

All firefighters who have completed their initial 12-week training course have the opportunity to earn significantly more than their base salary by undertaking additional or specialist duties and working overtime, as described below. This is usual for nearly all firefighters. On average, firefighters’ total annual earnings are currently around $97,000 and officers’ total annual earnings are around $137,000.

Hours of Work

Hours of work for firefighters average 42 hours per week, before overtime, based on two day shifts followed by two night shifts, and four days off.   

Day shifts are ten hours duration, including on station skills maintenance and duties, and work in the community as well as response to emergency events including fire, motor vehicle accident, medical response and other emergency services during natural disasters and weather events. 

Night shifts are 14 hours duration. During night shifts firefighters usually remain on station unless they are called to respond to an emergency event. They do perform some off station non-emergency tasks on occasion but are not normally required to undertake work tasks between the hours of 11pm and 7am and are able to rest and relax during this period, while maintaining a state of readiness, except when responding to an emergency event.

Leave

The roster cycle for fire fighters (and staff in Communications Centres) includes rostered leave of 14 consecutive days within each 160-day cycle to address fatigue and provide rest and recreation.  

Other forms of paid leave include sick leave of four weeks per year for firefighters, or more depending on length of service. Paid leave also includes three days partner leave for employees whose partners are having or adopting a baby, with a return to work payment of 30 days’ pay after parental leave for those who have assumed the primary responsibility for childcare and returned at the end of their leave. The payment is made six months after returning from parental leave as the caregiver.

Additional key benefits

All firefighters are eligible to participate in the Fire Superannuation Scheme. Employees can contribute up to six percent of their salary with their contributions matched by Fire and Emergency at $1.52 for every dollar put in by the employee.

Employees have insurance cover for accidental death or permanent disability that prevents them from working again.

After 20 years’ service, employees receive long service leave of 28 days.

An annual physical competency allowance is paid to those required to undertake the Physical Competency Assessment (PCA).  The calculation for the PCA works out to be a payment of between $1,391 to $2,714 depending on the role the person is in.

Pay and conditions for other positions covered by the PFU collective agreement

National Communications Centre staff

National Communications Centre staff answer emergency phone calls and dispatch crews to attend incidents from three centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.  During the year they answer approximately 345,000 calls, of which around 90,000 are 111 calls. They benefit from a structured progression framework that takes them from an entry level Grade 1 Communicator position with opportunities to progress through to Shift Manager.

Hours of work in the Communications Centres are two days and two nights on, then four days off. Where staff agree to work additional hours, they receive overtime pay

Base salaries in the Communications Centres range from approximately $48,000 to $91,000.

National Communications Centre staff benefit from the same leave entitlements and additional key benefits as firefighters (note they are not required to undertake the PCA).

Trainers, Advisors and Support roles

Support and advisor roles include firefighter training, volunteer support, risk reduction and community readiness and response.

Many firefighters choose to progress into these positions where they can apply and further develop the skills, knowledge and experience they have developed as operational firefighters.

People employed in these positions work an average of 40 hours per week, between the normal hours of 7:00am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday. Due to the operational, community facing nature of these positions there can be work outside these hours, including on the weekends, and some on-call work may be required. Allowances, overtime pay and/or time off in lieu compensate for work completed outside of normal hours.

Base salaries for these positions currently range from approximately $70,000 to $108,000.

People employed in these operational roles benefit from the same additional key benefits as firefighters.