A sensible fire merger

Peter Dunne has announced:

A $303 million overhaul of New Zealand’s fire services will create an organisation “fit for the 21st century”, the Government says – and your insurance could cost more to help pay for it.

The NZ Fire Service, mainly responsible for urban parts of the country, will merge with the National Rural Fire Authority and more than 40 other rural fire services to create a single organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

This is a very good thing, as finally there will be one fire authority for NZ. The status quo has seen silos with professional firefighters, volunteer firefighters and rural firefighters.

Announcing the merger to firefighter representatives, Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne described it as “the single biggest change to happen to our fire service in around 70 years”.

“There was a recognition that we needed to have a fire service that was fit for purpose for the 21st century, that was flexible, modern and efficient.

“We’re not grafting one bit on to another – we’re building a completely new organisation.”

The changes would put the country’s 12,000 volunteer firefighters in a direct relationship with the main organisation for the first time, while recognising the increased medical and emergency work being carried out by firefighters.

In the past the professional firefighters union (and some officers) have basically hated the volunteer firefighters as they see them as unpaid scabs or the like. 20 years ago the relationships were toxic. While there are still challenges, my understanding is that relationships are far better today.

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