25 June 2015
This is a special extra edition of Dunne Speaks, because I need your help. Last week I wrote about the review of the Fire Service, and how I am getting out and about at the moment, listening with an open mind to people’s views on the future direction our fire services should take.
Over the past three weeks, I have talked to firefighters from the different services in Canterbury, Manawatu-Whanganui, Northland, Southland, Bay of Plenty, Wairarapa and Wellington. And I have more visits to make yet. I have also heard from the wider community: from forest owners, farmers, council representatives and business owners.
There is a clear message from all these stakeholders that the time is right to address the issues that are putting our fire services under pressure. They have all given really useful feedback on the discussion document released last month.
I have shared with them my thinking about the way ahead and I am encouraging them put their ideas into a submission.
Some stakeholders are comfortable with Option 2: Coordinated service delivery. Others have suggested that it is time to move towards Option 3: one national fire service.
If there was to be one national fire service, stakeholders say it would need to incorporate local decision-making, be an organisation that was responsive to local needs, and would need careful transition planning.
So I have made it clear in my conversations that active community engagement is going to be a cornerstone of any new model. A new way of managing and delivering fire services will need to take account of the wide variety of local conditions and circumstances in each community.
I have therefore asked officials to think about how community engagement could be part of our fire services. A supplementary paper to the Discussion Document (attached http://www.dia.govt.nz/vwluResources/FSR-Supplementary-paper-PDF/$file/Feedback-from-stakeholders.pdf) might help you in preparing your own submission on which option, or combination of options, is going to give us the best way forward.
Under either Option 2 or Option 3 we need to ensure skilled and capable staff have minimal disruption to their work. We need to keep skilled and capable leaders for our fire services and communities as provided in roles such as principal rural fire officers and chief fire officers. We need to make sure that any change is well managed.
Please make a submission by clicking on discussion document help us design the best future fire services for New Zealand.