On duty firemen denied from 9/11 commemoration

By Hayley Hannan

Firemen have always attended memorial services as long as their region was adequately covered. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Firemen have always attended memorial services as long as their region was adequately covered. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Firemen on duty tomorrow are banned from attending memorials for September 11.

The New Zealand fire service management has forbidden any staff on duty from attending or participating in any 9/11 commemoration services because of a breakdown in pay negotiations, said NZ Professional Firefighters Union northern branch president Michael Powell.

Tomorrow marks 10 years on from the terrorist plane attack in 2001, which saw New York's twin towers fall and left thousands dead or injured.

Mr Powell said firemen have always attended memorial services as long as the region was adequately covered.

"It's essentially because we're in the middle of industrial action. It's something that would normally be allowed. We would obviously be in contact with the management in different areas as these things are organised to ensure we maintain coverage for operational regions. But this is something that would normally be done.''

The ban was nation-wide and firemen would not be able to attend services planned in Christchurch, Auckland's Sky City and New Plymouth, he said.

"Many guys feel quite upset by it. There's a close bond felt to America felt by many. Many want to remember our fallen comrades and this is just one way to remember them.''
He said it had become a tradition for the firemen to pay remembrance to the horrific event.

The decision to ban firemen from going to the services was made individually by each region, said a fire services spokesperson.

Auckland fire service region manager Brian Butt said the Auckland 9/11 commemoration is not a New Zealand fire service event.

"NZPFU members are free to commemorate the day at their fire stations or to attend events while they are off duty. "However, while the current industrial action is underway banning all work except emergency responses, we are not prepared to release fire appliances and on-duty crews to attend a non Fire Service event.''

- APNZ

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