From the wife of a firefighter

Kia ora koutou.

I am writing to you to implore someone, anyone with the power to influence change, to step in / step up and make right the atrocity that is the current #firecrisis.

FENZ management have tried to gag those on the inside.  I am not a firefighter.  I will not be gagged.

I have watched my husband who has given 39 years to FENZ, become tired and despondent.  He is working 7 out of his 8-day rotation (2 days, 2 nights, 4 days off).

We are “fortunate” we don’t have a young family at home now but I hear the stories of some of his young crew who haven’t seen their young children in a meaningful way for weeks.  Even though we don’t have children at home, we are still a couple with a home that I’m essentially managing on my own (on top of my work and other commitments).  This isn’t unique to us.  People (real people!!) are stretched beyond belief.  Families are fracturing, marriages are strained, people are breaking.

I am my husband’s shoulder when he comes home; exhausted because he’s just finished 80+ hours in a week and knowing he has to go back in less than 12 to start it all again. I’m the shoulder when he’s upset because he’s been to three suicides on the trot, a cardiac arrest of someone’s spouse or parent, dealt with the 58 year with sudden onset of chest pain who cardiac arrests in front of him.  And then as a SO, he’s had to spend hours trying to fill roster gaps to prevent a truck being taken off the run the next day.

There is no excuse for not knowing what it going on.  Jan Teniti has no excuses for not knowing what is going on.  There is no excuse, any longer, for not questioning the incompetencies of the senior management team.  For Kerry Gregory and Brendan Nally to blatantly stand up in public and deny there are vehicle faults, old and failing equipment, crewing issues or excessive overtime hours being worked by staff, is unacceptable.  What is more unacceptable is the inaction of central Government to intervene.

Whilst I appreciate that technically FENZ is not a Government agency (solely), there is major funding that is allocated in this direction.  Failing, incompetent health Boards, education providers and so on are very quickly put under the care of commissioners and government appointment management whilst audits and improvements are undertaken.  Why can’t this happen now with FENZ?  It is quite clear that the current management are incapable of fulfilling their obligations.

This isn’t just about the money.  With that said – why should they be paid less than their Australian counterparts?  Why are they the lowest paid of the emergency services?

This isn’t just about the effects on mental wellbeing.  With that said FENZ cannot continue to prop up St John without better training and wellbeing support.  To say that a debrief over a cuppa when back on station or even worse, “they joined the job knowing it might be tough” attitude is okay – well it’s just NOT okay!

This isn’t just about more staff.  With that said can someone explain to me why there are more and more non-uniformed staff being employed to do jobs no one knows what the outcomes/KPI’s are or the impact these roles on improving fire prevention and providing adequate cover in communities (e.g.; Senior Information Advisor Requests, Complaints Advisor, Team Leader Education Technologies, and dozens of others recently appointed). Interestingly they keep appointing to service areas but cancel courses for career firefighters because there is no funding???  How does that stack up?

An overhaul of an archaic system and management is long overdue.  Please, please make it happen.  These are good people who give their all to their jobs and their communities.  What they are being put through is NOT okay.

I haven’t emailed every politician but hopefully I have reached out to those I believe can influence change.

Ngā manaakitanga, nā

Wife of a Firefighter