The Green Party is calling on Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) to agree to improve the pay and conditions of our professional firefighters who are on the front line risking their health and life to protect New Zealanders.
FENZ’s failure to agree to safe staffing levels, to upgrade equipment so it is safe and reliable, and to boost wages means firefighters will be on strike today for one hour between 11am and 12pm, and again on Friday 26 August.
“Firefighters put their health at risk to protect us, so it is crucial that we do everything we can to look after them,” says Jan Logie, Green Party spokesperson for workplace relations and safety.
“Green Party MPs have been visiting fire stations around the country over the last few weeks. Every time, firefighters are raising the same concerns but with more examples specific to their station – dangerously long hours, unsafe equipment, not being listened to, and a lack of appropriate health support or training.
“We have heard about wet weather gear with pockets too small to take radios; 30-year-old trucks that aren’t up to the job; new trucks that had to be altered to be semi-functional, a lack of aerial trucks in many of our cities millions wasted on clothing that’s not fit for purpose or appropriate; boots that cause injuries when worn for extended periods, and that experts say shouldn’t be used to climb stairs… It is deeply worrying, and the blame lies squarely at the door of FENZ.
“We have heard about a fundamental disconnect between the front-line firefighters, who are going out and putting their bodies and their minds on the line every day to keep our communities safe, and head office. Firefighters strongly believe FENZ decision-making is putting people’s lives at risk.
“FENZ urgently needs to come to the table and agree to give our firefighters the pay, equipment, and conditions they deserve.
“We call on politicians, community leaders, and members of the public to show their support for the firefighters, because they need us all behind them at the moment.
“As well as backing the immediate changes firefighters have been pushing for, the Green Party has been calling on the Government to commit to an independent review of FENZ.
“Failing that, the very least it can do is expand the ongoing Belinda Clark review to encompass the concerns about low-staffing levels, pay, poor equipment and the breakdown between firefighters and FENZ management,” says Jan Logie.