Fire and Emergency New Zealand – Progress Towards 1 July 2017
We have made significant progress over the past eight months in anticipation of bringing over 14,000 people and 40 organisations under one umbrella – Fire and Emergency New Zealand – from 1 July 2017.
This progress is largely due to the goodwill and involvement of rural and urban personnel, and the wider fire services sector, who are working closely with the Board and Transition team to make sure our new organisation works in the best interests of our people and our communities.
More announcements will be made over the coming months: Fenz Project.
Building Fire and Emergency New Zealand: Three Key Phases
Establishing Fire and Emergency New Zealand is a large task and will take a number of years to fully achieve. We need to take time to do it properly and to keep working with the sector. For this reason, we have divided the work into three key phases: Amalgamation of urban and rural fire (1 July, 2017); Integration into a single organisation (1 July 2017 - 1 July 2020) and Unification (from 2020 onwards).
- National Leadership – three new roles will be in place from 1 July. These are: Chief Executive (CE), National Commander Urban (NCU) and National Manager Rural (NMR). These appointments will be made in April/May.
- In the lead up to 1 July, Paul McGill has been appointed as the Chief Executive/National Commander, Kerry Gregory as the Deputy National Commander, and Kevin O’Connor will continue as the National Rural Fire Officer.
- Regional Leadership
- No change to roles and organisational structure, up to, and including, Fire Region Managers (FRMs) and Principal Rural Fire Officers (PRFOs) from 1 July.
- FRMs will report to the National Commander Urban.
- PRFOs will report to five new Regional Managers Rural (RMRs), who will report to the National Manager Rural.
- The RMR roles have been created because of the dissolution of Rural Fire Authorities from 1 July. These roles are two year appointments, an interim measure while urban and rural fire boundaries are reviewed (see below).
- Command and Control – Guidance and delegations to make sure command and control arrangements are clear on 1 July will be announced in May. Work to make sure this is done properly is underway and includes input from operational personnel and their representatives. Unified command and control arrangements for Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be developed over the next three years.
- Urban/Rural Fire Boundaries will remain in-place on 1 July to minimise any service disruption. However, these will be reviewed in the first year of integration and replaced with Fire and Emergency New Zealand boundaries over the next three years.
- Rural Fire Authorities (RFAs) (including Enlarged Rural Fire Districts (ERFDs)) will be dissolved from 1 July, with responsibility and funding for rural fire transferring to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs) will no longer be required to fund rural fire from rates. We are working closely with these affected rural fire authorities to ensure their responsibilities are transferred with minimal disruption.
- Rural Fire Assets – We are working with affected rural fire authorities to make sure Fire and Emergency New Zealand has continued use of response assets from 1 July. Permanent arrangements will be negotiated over the next three years.
- Forest Fires – Agreements on how Fire and Emergency New Zealand will work with forest owners will be in place on 1 July.
- Department of Conservation (DOC) and New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) – From 1 July, Fire and Emergency New Zealand will have agreements with DOC and NZDF about fire and emergency services that each organisation will provide. NZDF will have fire control and emergency response powers and functions for NZDF areas.
- Volunteers – Urban and rural volunteers will become Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel on 1 July. An initial support package for volunteers for 1 July will be confirmed in May.
- New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) and National Rural Fire Authority (NRFA) employees will become employees of Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and their existing employment terms and conditions will remain unchanged on 1 July.
- RFA employees working solely on rural fire duties (whether full-time or part-time) will be offered a transfer to Fire and Emergency New Zealand, with equivalent terms and conditions of employment.
- RFA employees who perform some rural fire duties, on top of other work for their TLA, will have the opportunity to apply for any vacancies in Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
- DOC and NZDF employees who do rural fire work will remain with their respective organisations.
- Fire Permits – Fire and Emergency New Zealand will issue fire permits through an interim system from 1 July, while a permanent, national system is developed during the first year of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
- Fire Investigations – authorisations to allow fire investigations to continue will be in place by 1 July.
- Policies – Most current NZFS corporate policies will become Fire and Emergency New Zealand policies, with changes made where needed, for 1 July. These will be prioritised for review over the next three years, to ensure they meet the needs of Fire and Emergency New Zealand. There will be some new policies, such as Safety, Health and Wellbeing, expected to be finalised in May.
- Disputes Resolution Process – a temporary disputes resolution process will be in place for 1 July which can deal with a range of issues, including those raised by volunteers. More detail will be available from the end of April. A permanent disputes resolution scheme will be developed in the first year of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
- Local Advisory Committees (LACs) – Local Advisory Committees will be appointed by the Board and will provide valuable advice on local community risks and needs. LACs will not be involved in governance, management or operations. Three ‘pilots’ (including urban and rural fire personnel and community representatives) will test how LACs will operate. The Greater Auckland pilot was established in December 2016, Mid-South Canterbury will be established in March/April, and Hawke’s Bay will be established later this year. Consultation on LAC boundaries will start after 1 July.
- Public consultation was held last year on a proposed increase to the current levy from 1 July 2017. The proposed increase will help meet current and new costs (including rural fire). If the Government approves this first increase in eight years, it will apply until new levy provisions come into force.
- The Government will make a ‘public good’ contribution to cover the cost of responding to incidents that are not property or motor vehicle related, such as rescues, and medical and other emergencies.
- A new and broader levy (assessed on material damage insurance and third-party motor vehicle insurance) will come into force sometime after 1 July 2018. Consultation on this will take place after 1 July 2017.
- Identity – Fire and Emergency New Zealand will have a new logo by 1 July, with decisions on uniforms and fleet colours coming later. The new identity is being tested in workshops and interviews with over 160 urban and rural personnel. Recommendations will be made to the Board in April, the logo will be revealed internally in May, and applied over the following months.