I have been involved with what was NZFS both in a paid role and voluntarily. I have seen first hand the camaraderie, the unity and the feeling of family in those roles many years ago. I am also married to a firefighter and have been for all 21 years of his career. As a wife I see his stress, his pain and his frustration with an organisation that seriously is a fire crisis.
I have seen changes in a service that I once upon a time was proud to be part of. A service my husband continues to proudly serve to this day despite so many extra hours away from his home and family. What has changed though is the expectation of firefighters. They are now more exposed and dealing with trauma that pre 2013 they never dealt with. Exposed to cancer causing toxins. More undervalued than ever before, lack of support and care for their mental wellbeing. Working with an extremely aging fleet which continues to break down. It saddens me to see firefighters despondent, feeling like you feel, and feeling like you are not cared about. I know the thought and possibility of strike action escalating to levels not seen for a long time is a difficult decision for everyone and the fact that you are willing to do it shows just how undervalued you all feel.
The fact that there is talk of canceling recruit courses when FENZ is so understaffed is just beyond belief, whilst the numbers of support staff at national headquarters continues to increase. The excuse is that there is no money for these courses, but there is money for a flawed uniform review, millions of dollars spent on rebuilding stations that get a handful of calls a year, a multitude of other fiscally inept decisions and spending. This needs to be fixed so current firefighters can be home with their families without feeling bad because their mates are riding down someone or their community is uncovered.
My job as a paramedic, I see what they see, feel what they feel. I see the impact these jobs have on them. Not just my husband but all the firefighters who I proudly work alongside each day. It makes me angry that they have to fight this hard for what should be an easy fix. You all deserve better and I hope from the bottom of my heart that there is a solution and a fix to your issues soon because you all deserve so much more. The job you do and the support that you give to the ambulance officers is not unnoticed and it is appreciated more than I can put into words. So thank you.