It has been over a year now since the roll out of the new Drager BA sets and while the Fire Service has admitted that this roll out did not go very well and was inadequate, the follow up issues arising out of the roll out seems to be just as inadequate.
The Union has been involved on the National B.A. Working Group and is struggling to gain any progress on the outstanding issues with these BA sets. The last meeting of this group was in January of this year and issues arising out of this meeting are still outstanding and unresolved. The Union has requested both by e-mail and by letter for further meetings, yet the Fire Service has failed to respond to these requests.
The new Fire Service vision 20/20 was to supply firefighters with the very best equipment available to do the job that is required of them and while we will not disagree that this equipment was the best available at the time, there is a number of issues with this equipment that does need urgent attention.
The motion sensors are still causing the biggest problem for our members, although a trial is taking place at the moment with the Bodyguard 1000 at a new setting.
With the failure of a number of sets with kinking hoses the Union has requested that all hoses on these sets are replaced as soon as the new hoses become available from Drager.
The communication set up on these sets only works in some areas which also needs to be addressed urgently. We have asked for all communication leads on those sets that are not compatible with the radios to be removed and replaced with blanks and this has not been done.
The Union is doing its best to help rectify these issues and many more, but there seems to be a reluctance from the Fire Service to communicate fully with the Union and a reluctance to meet.
Introduction of the Relieving Shift for QFF and Above
The Current Collective Agreement between the NZPFU and NZFS provides for the introduction of a new relieving shift.
In discussion with the Fire Service, it has been agreed that this will NOT simply occur “overnight” on a given date and will ONLY occur in full consultation with the National Committee. Suitable arrangements will need to be made to ensure the effective and safe introduction of this shift.
Recruits who have been employed since September 2012 may be appointed to this new shift upon reaching QFF, or others may agree to move to this relieving shift under the terms of the collective, including additional payment for being on the shift.
No current staff recruited before September 2012 can be required to move onto the new relieving shift without agreement. This includes current relieving staff employed prior to 2012.
ALL staff moving to this shift when it is trialled (see below) and introduced later will be eligible for the additional payments provided for in the Collective Agreement.
Trial Prior to Implementation
The NZPFU and NZFS are currently in discussion about the practicality of potentially trialling the relieving shift in an Area or Region, rather than moving to a full National implementation. This will take some time to progress once agreed. This will allow the parties to monitor the practical benefits and assess the costs/benefits and potentially make any necessary reasonable modifications before proceeding to full implementation at a later date.
Any such trial will involve full consultation with local management and affected staff prior to commencement.
Staffing above MSM and Establishment in the Interim
In some Regions/Areas there may be a number of additional staff over and above establishment as recruitment levels remain high enough to provide the future numbers downstream to successfully trial/implement the relieving shift.
It has been agreed at a National Level with NZPFU in terms of the Collective Agreement that where there are additional staff above Establishment, these will be accommodated and managed in such a way as to ensure the safety of themselves and others. Any additional crewing will only occur where the additional crew member is fully aware of the nature of their role and appropriate steps are taken to ensure their safety, relative to that role.