My latest video update has three parts:

  1. In recognition of New Zealand Sign Language Week, I begin with a welcome in Sign, one of New Zealand’s official languages.
  2. I share some highlights from my latest visit to Te Anau and Milford, on a trip to understand the needs and complexities of some New Zealand’s more remote and unique communities.
  3. Finally, 4 May was International Firefighters’ Day, so this is my opportunity to say a belated thanks to all of you in your many varied roles for Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Here’s a summary of the key points in my video:

This week is Sign Language Week, a chance for us to reflect on how important that is to us.

Twenty thousand people use sign language as a way of communicating. For us, it is important that we can communicate with people in an emergency no matter who they are.

It is time for us to think about learning some basic words and signs, such as “who am I”, “are you ok?” “is there anyone else in the building?”, so we can not only get information quickly, but also give those people confidence that we can communicate with and understand them.

So this isn’t just another “week”; this is important to us.

Once again I’ve been taking the opportunity to travel around New Zealand with some of my Executive Leadership Team colleagues to understand the important and unique features of our regions. Today, I’m in Te Anau.

In addition to visiting Te Anau we also went to Milford Sound, to look at how we might support traffic over the remote Milford-Te Anau highway and the Milford township itself.

We talked with members of those communities about how we might meet their unique needs in the future, so we can build that into our strategic planning.

The isolation of these places means we can’t do this alone and neither can the communities themselves. So it is important that we work together, and with the other agencies, to look at what they need and what our part in helping to deliver that is. That’s an important part in how we’re building Fire and Emergency for the future.

Finally, last Saturday, 4 May, was International Firefighters’ Day. This is a day where right around the world, communities say thank you to their firefighters who are protecting their communities.

I also want to say thank you. Everyone in our organisation has contributed to making our communities safer, whether you’re on the trucks responding, doing risk reduction work, or working in one of our various headquarters providing support to those who go out. Whether you do school education programmes or go into homes installing smoke alarms. It is all important to our communities.

So whatever role you do in our organisation, I want to thank you for the work you do.

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Watch the full International Firefighters’ Day recap(external link) and International Firefighters’ Day acknowledgement video(external link) on our Facebook page

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