CE Blog: Escape Week, Waitangi and more
Do you have an escape plan for your family?
This week is Fire and Emergency’s Escape Week. Tragically in New Zealand there’s a house fire roughly every three hours. We know it only takes a couple of minutes between a smoke alarm sounding and toxic smoke and heat becoming life threatening. In that situation, you’ll probably be scared and disoriented, and it will be virtually impossible to start planning your escape.
So, this week we’re challenging New Zealanders to take five minutes now, so they’ll know what to do then. Look out for our promotional activities on TV and social media – there’s a detailed schedule on the Portal. If you’re on Facebook I encourage you to share this short video(external link).
As Fire and Emergency personnel, we should all be leading by example. I’ve done my plan, and it was quick and easy. I challenge you to create your household escape plan at www.escapemyhouse.co.nz(external link), share it with everyone who lives at your address, and practice it regularly. It may be a life-saver one day.
Celebrating Waitangi Day
Last week I had the privilege of joining members of our Northland team at Waitangi. Fire and Emergency is proud to play a part in the Waitangi commemorations each year, and to recognise the status of Māori as tangata whenua and key stakeholders in the work we do.
Kerry Gregory, our first Māori National Commander, of Ngāti Maru descent, had the honour of delivering a karakia at the dawn ceremony on behalf of Fire and Emergency. He stood amongst the leaders and dignitaries of New Zealand to share our commitment to embracing diversity and protecting life, property and the environment – not only for Māori but for all New Zealand communities.
Once the sun came up our focus turned to the family festival and engaging with families about how they can reduce the risk of unwanted fires and stay safe. Our very popular kids combat challenge and demonstration stands ensured families had a fun and memorable day. Thank you to everyone involved.
Kerry shares more in this highlights clip:
Prioritising our investment
One of the things about being a public organisation is that once a year we’re required to present to a Select Committee made up of both government and opposition MPs. Our Chair and I presented at Select Committee today.
We were asked a number of questions about our performance and topical issues. One aspect we emphasised is our unrelenting focus on investing for the future needs of our communities while continuing our vital role of keeping New Zealanders safe.
In reality that’s meant investing in your training and wellbeing, upgrading equipment and buildings, addressing historic under-investment in both the rural and urban vehicle fleets, boosting support for frontline personnel and strengthening our ties to the communities we serve.
For example, in the last financial year we started or completed construction of 19 new fire stations and 20 refurbishments. We delivered 39 new appliances, 24 support vehicles, and 7,745 Incident Ground Communication handheld radios.
We have a long way to go and it will take time, but we’re making progress and we’ll keep you updated as we go.
People Branch decisions tomorrow
As I mentioned by email last week, I’ll be announcing my decisions on proposed structural changes to the People Branch tomorrow. Please look out for an email from me early afternoon.
Thank you for your ongoing commitment to Fire and Emergency as we work though these changes to build our unified organisation.