Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill passes Third Reading

  • Peter Dunne
Internal Affairs

In a fitting coincidence with International Firefighters Day today, Parliament has passed the third reading of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill. This Bill marks most significant change to New Zealand’s fire legislation in 70 years. It creates a single fire organisation – Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and brings together New Zealand’s rural, urban, paid and volunteer firefighters for the first time.

“This Bill, and the reform it represents, has been a very long time in the making. It will ensure New Zealand has a modern, fit for purpose, and well-funded fire service.

“It recognises the vital roles of volunteer and paid firefighters, the importance of community, while addressing long standing issues such as the underfunding of rural fire,”  Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said today.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand will be established as of 1 July 2017, with full integration expected to take four years.

“This is a huge change process, and it is critical we do it right. While we will amalgamate on 1 July 2017, we will work steadily towards full integration over the next four years. This will allow a measured and well thought out integration of the many brigades and fire forces throughout New Zealand.

“It has been a long journey to get to this point, and all those who have been involved should be proud to have been part of this milestone for the fire services of New Zealand. The involvement, passion, knowledge and enthusiasm of firefighters, their communities and stakeholders have made this reform possible”.

“I would also like to acknowledge the work of the Government and Administration Select Committee, which considered this Bill, and in particular the excellent stewardship of Committee Chair Hon Ruth Dyson in guiding this complex piece of legislation though the various stages of its development,” said Mr Dunne.

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill recognises the expanded mandate of the fire services, creates local advisory committees, and ensures firefighters have the appropriate powers to do their jobs. It provides for updated and appropriate penalties, and a disputes resolution scheme to be developed.

“It is important to know that there will be no disruption to the response as a result of the new organisation. Fire appliances will continue to roll out the door as normal on 1 July 2017, ready to respond to any situation in which they are called to assist,” Mr Dunne said.