New fire entity on the way

By Zaryd Wilson

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Rural fire operations will merge with the New Zealand Fire Service if a proposed bill gets through Parliament. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Rural fire operations will merge with the New Zealand Fire Service if a proposed bill gets through Parliament. Photo/ Bevan Conley

With a proposed creation of the an-inclusive Fire and Emergency New Zealand before Parliament, people are being encouraged to have their say on how the new entity operates.

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand Bill repeals the Fire Service Act and the Forest and Rural Fires Act to create a single unified fire service organisation for New Zealand.

It has just entered Parliament, passing it first reading this week and is now before the Select Committee.

An overhaul of the NZ Fire Service was announced last year by the Department of Internal Affairs which invited submissions.

A combined entity was the preferred option of the Whanganui District Council and Rural Community Board.

It means councils will no longer be responsible for rural fire and likely not be needed to fund it.

WDC emergency manager Matthew Smith said most councils in the region were of the same view and pleased that option was selected.

He said the DIA were in regular consultation with council and had gone about the proposed merger in a sensible way.

Rangitikei principal rural fire officer Paul Chaffe encouraged people to make a submission to the select committee. Submissions are open from now until August 18.

He said there would likely be local committees put in place to have a say in the local or regional operation of the new entity and that people may want to have a say on that during the submission phase.

The new service retains a mix of paid fire fighters and volunteers.

Submissions can be made at:
https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/51SCGA_SCF_00DBHOH_BILL69468_1/fire-and-emergency-new-zealand-bill

- Wanganui Chronicle

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