Fire and Emergency’s Executive Leadership Team (ELT) talked about a range of topics of interest to volunteers followed by a Q&A session as part of the Kōrero 2020 webinar series which replaced the UFBA conference this year. 

Paul Swain our Board Chair welcomed everyone and set the scene by recognising the valuable contribution of our volunteers, our progress towards a unified organisation and the focus for the year ahead.

Rhys Jones our Chief Executive introduced the panel:

  • Raewyn Bleakley, DCE Office of the Chief Executive
  • Darryl Purdy, DCE Finance and Business Operations
  • Kerry Gregory (remotely), DCE Service Delivery
  • Russell Wood, DCE Organisational Strategy and Capability Development
  • Brighid Jamieson, Chief Advisor, Volunteerism who represented Brendan Nally, DCE People. Brighid’s is a new role recognising the importance of building our capacity to better serve and support our volunteers.

The following topics were covered:

Speaker Topics
Rhys Jones
  • Our 25-year National Strategy and our 10-year plan which sets out the most important things we need to do in the next 10 years.
  • Our focus on building a positive workplace culture and the recently released Code of Behaviour
Kerry Gregory
  • Decisions for our new Service Delivery structure both nationally and regionally.
Raewyn Bleakley
  • Overview of our current national education campaigns that focus on building public awareness and education around fire safety.
  • Overview of the upcoming Employer Recognition campaign focused on the new Proud Employer Mark which looks to recognise the contribution of our volunteers’ employers and our self-employed volunteers.
Brighid Jamieson
  • Reward and recognition initiatives to recognise our volunteers and their whānau
Darryl Purdy
  • The economic impact of COVID
  • Our UFBA funding model
  • Our new Dispute Resolution process
Russell Wood
  • Update on our national property, fleet and equipment programmes.

There were a number of questions answered by ELT on the night, they included the following themes:

  • Positive workplace culture
  • Service delivery structure
  • Brigade equipment
  • Model rules
  • Training
  • Advocacy services

Watch the video of the 2020 UFBA Kōrero Executive Team Panel discussion 



There were a few questions we didn’t get to on the night, so we have answered these below.

How does Fire and Emergency plan to deal with personnel who behave in a manner which is in conflict with our Positive Workplace Culture?

One area we’ve put a lot of focus and effort into is building a positive workplace culture.

Bullying and harassment of any kind have no place at Fire and Emergency. We’re creating an environment where everyone feels safe, welcome and included, regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or role; one that embraces the diversity of all our people.

To do that, we need to have both the right processes in place to deal with bullying and harassment and develop a strong culture where this behaviour doesn’t happen in the first place.

One of the key things that will help us stop unwanted behaviour is to be clear on what’s above the line (acceptable) and what’s below the line (unacceptable) behaviour.

In August, we released our Code of Behaviour and Policy to address bullying, harassment and victimisation. Together the Policy and Code clearly outline how all of us at Fire and Emergency are expected to behave, how to identify bullying, harassment and victimisation, and how to stop unwanted behaviour. Our Code of Behaviour describes above the line (acceptable) or below the line (unacceptable) behaviour. It can be used as a quick reference to check our behaviour against.

You can view the Policy and Code of Behaviour at link)

Over the next few months, we will be working to build the Code into our job descriptions, induction processes and training. We’ll also be reviewing the Standards of Conduct and its associated guidance documents to ensure everyone is supported to stop unwanted behaviour.

The Policy has been developed as part of the positive workplace culture programme of work that is solely focused on addressing the findings from the 2018 independent review (external link)

Our Policy is based on best practice. It has been peer reviewed by external experts and we sought feedback from our people on the draft Policy in December last year.

Together, our Code and Policy will form the key tools that we will use to stamp out bullying and harassment of any kind in our organisation.

Use our Policy and Code of Behaviour to stop unwanted behaviour

Changing a culture of such a large and complex organisation takes time. We all have a role to play here. We must hold ourselves and each other to account. Here’s what we can do now:

  • Read and share the Policy(external link) and Code of Behaviour(external link)
  • Have a conversation. Talk with your team and peers about what’s above the line (acceptable) and below the line (unacceptable behaviour). The Code of Behaviour and the Policy will help with this conversation as behaviour is clearly defined.
  • If you are a manager or a people leader, set clear expectations on what’s above the line and what’s below the line. Create a safe space for your people to call out bad behaviour when they see it.
  • Be an upstander. If you see bullying or harassment of any kind, don’t put up with it – stand up against it. The videos (external link) give you guidance on how to do so.
  • If you have experienced unwanted behaviour, seek support. There are a number of ways you can do this:

Behaviour and Conduct Office

We have a bullying and harassment complaints process for people who want to raise a complaint or seek advice about their options. This process allows people to talk with someone impartially and confidentially.

Our current process for bullying and harassment complaints (external link)

Support for people affected by sexual harm

Find out about the support available if you have experienced or been affected by sexual harm(external link).

Support options

Find out more about the safety, health and wellbeing support options available (external link) 




Is Fire and Emergency able to engage St John tutors to provide additional Recruit Firefighter Medical Co-Response courses?

There will not be any additional Recruit Firefighter Medical Co-Response courses as we already have a contract in place with St John to deliver an agreed number of courses across the country. However, if someone is part of a crew attending an incident but is not current or trained in medical co-response, they can still respond if there is a certified person on the crew overseeing their work.

In 202,1 we plan to pilot an online medical/first aid training for both co-response and first response brigades. This will mean that those doing the training can complete the online module at a time that works for them before attending a half day practical session. Our volunteers will no longer have to give up a full day to maintain this crucial skill set.

When will brigades be able to access training for traffic control?

We are currently looking at options for specifically training people on managing traffic at emergencies. One of the recommendations is to develop a nationally consistent two to three-hour training package. It will include how to close a road, manage traffic at an incident and carry out stop and slow duties if equipment is available, until Police / Waka Kotahi NZTA approved contractors arrive.

This project is subject to funding and if approved, we will advise brigade leaders with timeframes for implementation as it is intended this training will be delivered on training nights.

Rural volunteers who are called to incidents are paid while urban volunteers get a token payment. What are you doing to address this?

When Fire and Emergency was established in 2017, we brought together New Zealand’s urban and rural fire services into one integrated organisation. This means many of our people came across on a range of different terms and conditions.

We are working through these variations to establish a consistent and fair approach to compensating our volunteers.

There is one reimbursement arrangement for urban volunteers. However, payment entitlements are complex and variable for rural volunteers. There are 34 different rural volunteer payment schedules and these can be further split into 74 separate payment arrangements. It is important to note that across these different payments not all rural volunteers are paid for attending incidents.

Currently we are prioritising and planning work on long-duration incidents to establish a more equitable approach to achieve fair and consistent compensation arrangements for our volunteers. Work is not expected to get underway on incident payments until the 2021/2022 year.    

Kerry, you talked about being now in the unification stage, but we still have not sorted rank and insignia for vegetation.

As a key priority, we focused on rank and visual identifiers associated with Tranche 2 of our organisational design. So far, we have completed visual identifiers and rank for Fire Commander and Assistant Fire Commander roles. Further work for other roles has not yet started due to other priorities, but is something we will work through.

We have community members who would like to join the brigade but only be available for medical calls not fire or other call types. Has this been considered and or is possible?

We have about 60 First Response Brigades throughout the country with volunteers trained as medical first responders who respond to medical as well as other incidents.   

Currently we are looking at establishing a medical co-responder role for volunteers who only wish to respond to medical incidents. This is more complicated than the process we introduced for first responders and it will take time to make sure we get it right.

Can hose testing be done by contractors or career firefighters rather than loading up volunteers?

Our newly formed Equipment and Logistics Directorate are working on a new strategy for hose management, maintenance and testing. We’re aiming towards reducing the onus on all front-line firefighters testing hose. The new strategy must be affordable and sustainable and will take time to develop and implement. Hose testing needs to be done by appropriately qualified and certified people.

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