My husband is exhausted

Kia Ora,

I am a wife of a firefighter and I see his love and passion for his job, he wouldn’t dream of doing anything else. But I see the fatigue, the physical and mental exhaustion. I see the hours he puts in, hours away from his young whanau. Hours with his other family, his brothers and sisters that work together to keep us safe. I see the anguish on his face as another overtime text comes through saying, “if they don’t fill the seat, they will have to pull a truck off the run.”

He’s torn between being exhausted and not wanting to let his team or his community down, so he puts his hand up again. The crazy thing is, we need this overtime to live because FENZ don’t provide a realistic remuneration. I know that the more overtime he does, the more exposure to traumatic events he and his crew receive.

Since my husband started as a firefighter we have gotten a dog and we joke that he is his PTSI dog. The dog has provided more mental health support to him than anything FENZ is currently offering.

I watched the project on tv3 last night, a very well timed FENZ propaganda piece on Scania’s fire trucks and how they are locally made. Anyone not in the know would think, “what are the firefighters complaining about? These trucks look great.”

But the reality is, unless you listened closely to the wording of, “burnover” and talk of the different reds for other Brigades, you wouldn’t have clicked that most of these trucks were for Australia and further a field. What do our undervalued fire fighters get? The so called fit for purpose MAN appliances, old ones beaten up Scanias, the ones that they are constantly taking to the workshop to be fixed. The replacement truck that they will end up swapping onto can barely make it up the hill, how do FENZ expect it to get to an emergency, where minutes are critical.

I know my husband does a great job, I’m so proud of him and all of all the firefighters that respond to choking, cardiac arrests, line rescues, stabbings, suicides, and fires.

I’ve seen my husband come home, see our children and burst out crying because he lost a child that day the same age. I’ve seen my husband not be able to eat the meal I’ve prepared because it reminded him of the bodily contents he had seen that day. They need mental support and they need more medical training.

“Joining Fire and Emergency as a permanent employee will unlock some great benefits to support your work-life balance and wellbeing.

Nothing is more important to us than our people – he waka eke noa | Everybody in one canoe with no exception. So, come and join the crew.”

This is what FENZ state on their vacancies page….where is that work life balance and wellbeing they speak of? How do they believe that they show their fire fighters that they are important?

My daughter watches her Dad and dreams of being a fire fighter too one day. She’s 5 years old, her dad is her hero. I pray that if this is something she does in the future; that what the firefighters and union are fighting for today, to be valued, protected and supported, are her reality as a future fire fighter.

A hopeful wife