Auckland firefighter staff-shortages at ‘crisis point’


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The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union said that the staffing issues in the Auckland fire department has reached a crisis point.

The union made the comment after over the past weekend there were 23 gaps in firefighter coverage, including five fire trucks out of commission due to no staff and several more short-staffed.

The union’s Auckland local secretary Martin Campbell said there has been a lack of investment over the past 10 to 15 years and that now it was hitting rock bottom. He said: “We’ve had no significant increase in the number of career firefighters in Auckland since the 1980s and early 90s, in fact Auckland is less than half the number of career firefighters per capita than the rest of New Zealand.”

On Saturday in Tāmaki Makaurau, there were 98 firefighters on during the day, 20 percent fewer than usual, looking after the region’s 1.7 million people, Campbell said.

“If stations are unstaffed or closed down because we haven’t got enough firefighters, other stations have to respond from longer and further away, it takes longer for Fire and Emergency to get fire trucks to emergency incidents,” he added.

Fire and Emergency region manager Ron Devlin made a comment of reassurance to the community, however, that the service had the capacity and planning in place to respond to emergencies.

“We have capacity built into our capability to allow for coverage on any given day should appliances be committed to large fires or when we routinely take trucks off service temporarily for several reasons – including training our people and maintaining our fleet,” he said in a statement, explaining that fire and emergency has been impacted by staff absences due to Omicron.

He added that

Fire and Emergency New Zealand recruited for career firefighters twice a year and it received applications from many quality candidates: “In fact, we are currently running an additional recruitment for Auckland only, which opened on 1 April and will close on 15 May, with the objective of filling an additional 15 to 20 roles.”

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