Comments from a Firefighters Wife

So apparently our Firefighters don’t regularly work long hours, hmmm.
So why is my calendar full of dates where my husband is working at least one day and one night overtime nearly each and every pay and has been for years?

But that’s ok, we’re used to that routine of 60-72 hrs per week and to be honest, it’s how we manage our bills, if we had to budget off his base wage things would be a very different story, we would struggle.

But it’s when he gets called for more overtime above the normal that I start to get annoyed. It’s great money, don’t get me wrong, but what do I get? A tired partner, with limited patience, not wanting to go out, he’s drained even if they’ve hardly had any calls that set. He doesn’t really rest on nightshift. We’ll argue quicker, I’ll lose patience with him. Yeah it’s not fun. It’s not really living, so what’s the point?

But if I put my foot down and say NO when asked if I mind if he works yet another OT shift, then it’s another family that loses out on time with their loved one. I do feel guilty at times when that happens as we don’t have young kids, however, just occasionally, I’d like to have my husband around.

FENZ pays low base wages and is happy to pay excessive amounts of OT, why?
It’s cheaper for them in the long run. Less employees = less overall costs.

And with the low base wages, you’ll always have firefighters happy to work OT.

But at what personal cost to the firefighters and their families?
I’m lucky, with a blended family I wasn’t left alone to manage kids, but for some families, the partner becomes the primary caregiver, taking on the lion’s share of the responsibility and work load. I’m sure that at times they feel like a solo parent.

Firefighting is a passion that few take on, but now thanks to FENZ it’s not just fighting fires that they do. It’s the medical calls that are taking a toll. They go to the highest priority calls, the worst of the worst and what has FENZ said? “They’re given Training and have access to Counselling/EAP Services”.

Training = not much more than a First Aid Course anyone can attend.

Counselling/EAP = the same service that an office worker can access.

Do you think that’s adequate? Because I know it’s not, I’m an ex- Ambulance Officer and I know what they go through.

Training and Counselling need to be specific and targeted to match what they see and do each and every week.

And don’t get me started on all the new Office Staff they’ve just employed for goodness knows what role…. They automatically get Income Protection Insurance as part of their pay package, but what about our Front Line Staff?
No they don’t get any Income Protection Insurance. Yet these are the people that pay a lot of attention to keeping their fitness levels up and eating well.

Around the World there is a common agreement that Firefighters are exposed to carcinogenic compounds leading to an increased risk of Cancer.
What does FENZ say….. “there’s no link”, glad to know they are better informed than the World Health Organisation.

I pay for my husband’s Medical Insurance, and I can only afford Kiwicare which is a Surgical Plan which covers 80% only, is that going to be good enough to cover him if he becomes unwell?

There are so many ways that FENZ is failing it’s frontline staff and that’s without even looking at the state of some Stations, the Trucks, Hoses etc. Is there anyone out there that will take this seriously and make a positive change.