Every year on 4 May, International Firefighters’ Day, we celebrate the important role our people play in communities across New Zealand every day.

At Fire and Emergency, our workforce is made up of more than 14,000 career, volunteer and support personnel, all with the skills, knowledge and expertise to serve our communities. Today, we thank them for their service.

International Firefighters’ Day was introduced to honour five firefighters who died while fighting a wildfire in Victoria, Australia in 1999. May 4 was chosen as it is the feast day of St Florian, who is the patron saint of all firefighters and was the first known commander of a Roman firefighting squad.

It is fitting that today we also celebrate six of our people who have been awarded Royal Honours for their selfless dedication and hard work to protect their communities.

Firefighting isn’t simply about fighting fires these days. Our people are there to respond to a host of emergencies, including motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, hazardous substances, severe weather events and natural disasters. Fire and Emergency is there whenever our communities need us the most.

When our firefighters aren’t responding to incidents, they help to reduce the risk of fires by working closely with communities, for example, through fire safety campaigns and by providing advice on the building code. When a fire or natural disaster does take place, our people are there to help their communities get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

For many firefighters, this role also brings with it missed meals, sleep and family commitments. So, we also acknowledge families and friends for their support, which means our firefighters are available to serve their communities 24/7, 365 days a year.

Many of our stations will be celebrating today in their own special way in their communities, and I look forward to hearing about how our people choose to mark this important day.

On behalf of the Board, and all of New Zealand, happy International Firefighters’ Day. Thank you for all you do to keep our communities safe.

Me he toka tū moana.

Like a rock in the ocean - steadfast, strong, reliable, resilient, always there despite the continual pounding of the elements.

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