Peer Support is part of Fire and Emergency's commitment to Critical Incident and Personal Stress Support (CIPSS).

Peer Supporters at Fire and Emergency are people who share similar experiences with you and who can provide support assistant and practical help if you need it. 

Peer support is not counselling. Peer Supporters refer on to professionals if they agree more focussed assistance is required.  

How and when did Peer Support start at Fire and Emergency? 

Peer Support has a long tradition at Fire and Emergency. Its origins started with firefighters wanting to support one another after critical incidents. This led to the creation of a formal peer support programme known as Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) in 1990.  

In 2010 the programme was reviewed, updated and renamed Critical Incident and Personal Stress Support (CIPSS), and was expanded to include personal and professional stress. 

To this day, Peer Support remains an integral part of the broad programme of wellbeing support services at Fire and Emergency. 

Who are our Peer Supporters? 

Peer Supporters are usually Fire and Emergency people who volunteer to help their colleagues. Some are clinical psychologists, former firefighters, or family members of firefighters.  

Peer Supporters are people who:  

  • Have a genuine interest in the wellbeing of their colleagues 
  • Are great listeners, non-judgemental, and demonstrate empathy 
  • Abide by a Code of Ethics and Confidentiality Agreement 
  • Work under clinical supervision 
  • Are committed to meetings and ongoing training 
  • Function within the boundaries of the peer supporter role and the Peer Support programme 

Important links: 

Peer Support(external link) 
Safety, health and wellbeing(external link) 
Seek wellbeing support(external link) 
Psychological wellbeing for employees(external link) 
Psychological wellbeing for volunteers(external link)

Meet some of the fantastic Peer Supporters from around the country 


Roy Wiliams

Station Officer, red watch Manurewa, started in NZFS April 1984

Peer Supporter since 2005 

‘I attended an MVA as OIC of the rescue tender. We had to extricate the body of a girl who was run over by a large truck. She was a young Māori girl who had got off the school bus and run across the road when she was struck just outside her home. I said a karakia. 

I spoke to a peer supporter a few days later because I wasn’t sure about how I felt. I seemed to be coping despite the trauma. 

After that I was invited to consider joining Peer Support.’ 

What are some of the things, places or people that lift you?   

Saving a life is by far the most rewarding part of my work. But, getting through a challenging day and overcoming those challenges, both at work and home is satisfying. When I see other people doing the same, then that is also very uplifting. 

Being around others who share similar interests, like the Peer Support team, Te Roopu Tinei Ahi ki Tamaki Makaurau, classmates at Te Wananga o Aotearoa etc.  

I also like enjoying nature, keeping well, sharing and learning with others. 

Lesina Walden

Ngā Tai ki te Puku

Peer Supporter for seven years 

‘I worked with Police as a Victim Supporter in South Auckland and dealt with many different cases. 

I was aware of CISM when I joined the service 33 years ago, but the urgency to use it was not there back then as it is today. How times and incidents have changed. 

Becoming a Peer Supporter has been one of the best decisions I made. I have had some excellent training and we meet on a regular basis with the team.  

I consider myself to be a good listener, a caring person and I am always willing to go the extra mile. I have seen a lot of trauma over my time and I understand why fellow firefighters need to have someone to talk to. I am a great believer that the strength is in the asking therefore asking for help can only make you stronger.’ 

What are some of the things, places or people that lift you? 

‘I like visiting other fire stations and meeting fellow firefighters. One of the things I find rewarding is when we are asked to go to a station after a traumatic event and the firefighters are open to talk about what they have just dealt with and we haven’t even asked any questions. That’s trust and it’s special. 

Anywhere with whānau is a place I call home. I love spending time with my grandchildren and I have some amazing friends.’ 

Steve Shaw

Peer Supporter since 2016 

‘I have had direct personal experience with post-incident stress and the effects it can have on an individual and families. Through my own experiences I have developed great empathy for people in our organisation who often have unexpected post-incident emotions. 

The support I offer can extend to personal issues too, as these can ultimately impact our brigades. Sympathy often involves a lot of judgement. Empathy has none.’ 

What are some of the things, places or people that lift you?   

‘Being around enthusiastic and positive brigade members is always uplifting. To work as a Peer Supporter can be both confronting and a challenge but it always remains incredibly rewarding to be able to support others. Family provide the balance.’ 

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