Published: 29 April 2016
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) supports the reform announced today by Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne which will merge and modernise New Zealand’s fire services.
With an injection of $303 million over five years, the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand service will combine urban and rural fire services into one organisation from mid 2017.
LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says this reform recognises that the role of the fire service has expanded to include fire and emergency services.
“This will address the long-standing reliance on volunteer fire fighters to cover call-outs to road accidents and natural disasters, which isn’t part of their role,” says Mr Yule.
LGNZ finds it encouraging that Minister Dunne has responded to the many submissions that were made on this reform and is pleased the Minister has given his commitment to some significant changes.
“It is a complex sector with around 650 fire services, all with very different funding, equipment and governance arrangements. Local committees within the new Fire and Emergency New Zealand organisation will mean that community needs are understood and met while the organisation transitions,” says Mr Yule.
LGNZ believes funding arrangements will be much fairer by addressing funding gaps and anomalies in the funding system.
“With a well planned five year transition period and commitment of public funding, the Government is acknowledging the contribution of the 24,000 volunteers and will be investing in rural and volunteer equipment to ensure they are supported and recognised,” says Mr Yule.
The local government sector will work closely with the new Fire and Emergency service to assist with the transition.