You may have seen some recent commentary around the different unions and associations we work with, and I thought I would take this opportunity to provide you with information about how we work with these different agencies.

Fire and Emergency works with five unions and associations each representing different groups of our people – these are the NZ Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU), United Fire Brigades Associations (UFBA), Public Service Association (PSA), the Rural Professionals Association (RPA) and the Fire Emergency Commanders Association (FECA).

Representatives from all five unions and associations are invited to advocate for and reflect their members’ interests at a range of meetings, working groups and through other forums. The Executive Leadership Team and other senior managers have very frequent interactions with all unions and associations as different programmes of work are shaped and implemented. We value this input and appreciate the time all representatives put into these processes.

Each of these unions and associations are independent organisations with their own constitutions and/or rules and legal status. They are entirely separate and independent from Fire and Emergency in their operation and governance. We are not involved in any internal investigations undertaken by these organisations. This is all entirely appropriate - these are independent organisations whose role is to represent the interest of their members in accordance with the objectives set out in their own rules.

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 notes that we may enter agreements with organisations to provide ongoing independent advocacy and support services at no cost to Fire and Emergency volunteers. Currently we have an agreement with the UFBA to be a provider of these services, however, volunteers can request support from other providers or organisations.

We provide funding to the UFBA under the Transitional Advocacy and Support Agreement. This covers operating costs for general volunteer and brigade support, service honours, benevolent fund, advocacy and support, challenges and competitions, conference and volunteer development. The UFBA presents a business plan to the Fire and Emergency Board each year before funding is agreed, and progress against this plan is monitored. If funding is not utilised (which occurred over the last financial year due to COVID-19 related cancellations), this is returned. We also reimburse costs incurred by the other unions and associations when their representatives are involved in meetings and working groups as outlined above. Wherever we provide funding, we check that it is being spent in the manner as intended. Where appropriate that includes undertaking audits.

We remain committed to working constructively with all those agencies who represent of our people.

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