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Fire and Emergency 'is keeping communities safe'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Fire and Emergency is, and always will be, committed to keeping our communities safe.

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 required more than 13,300 of Fire and Emergency’s personnel to have their first vaccination by the end of today (29 November) and their second vaccination by the end of 14 January 2022, to carry out their roles.

National Commander Kerry Gregory says no matter what, we will be here for our communities.

"Every day around 1,800 career firefighters and 11,500 volunteers turn up to help our communities when they are in need," he says.

"Our firefighters care deeply about serving their communities and keeping people safe. They are dedicated and remarkable people. In times of emergency, they will be there to help."

"Our people work alongside health practitioners at incidents and go into schools when responding to emergencies and to provide fire safety education," Kerry Gregory says.

"They also work among some of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities. By being vaccinated, and following our strict COVID protocols, they are doing their part to reduce exposure and spread of COVID-19 in the community."

90% of Fire and Emergency personnel covered by the Order are fully or partially vaccinated. This includes around 95% of staff and 89% of volunteers covered by the Order. The remaining people have either not yet provided their vaccination status, or have chosen to remain unvaccinated.

"As an emergency response organisation we always have contingency plans in place so we can respond when we’re needed - it’s what we do. On any given day there could be multiple incidents that we need to attend occurring at the same time. We plan for that and that’s why we have contingency plans in place.

"Right through the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been planning for how we keep our communities safe and continue to respond if a brigade was impacted by COVID. Our contingency planning following the Health Order is an extension of that.

"While the vast majority of our people are vaccinated, there are two smaller brigades that won’t be able to operate from midnight tonight (Monday 29 November). By law, if Fire and Emergency people covered by the Order have decided to remain unvaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status, they can no longer continue in their role from midnight tonight. It has been a challenging time for everyone and some of our people have had to make difficult decisions."

"The brigades which do not have enough vaccinated volunteers to operate at full capacity are Inangahua on the West Coast and Matakana Island in the Bay of Plenty. We’re disappointed they will have to temporarily book their trucks off service, but we are determined to get them operational again. We’ll continue to work with them and their communities to do so.

"In the meantime, these communities can be assured in an emergency, they should call 111 - we have made contingency arrangements for them and help will still be on the way.

"Inangahua Volunteer Fire Brigade will get support from their neighbouring stations - Reefton and Westport. Inangahua has seven members and specialises in responding to vegetation fires as well as attending medical calls and motor vehicle crashes. On average, they attend six calls a year.

"Fire and Emergency has a tactical response plan when responding to an emergency on Matakana Island. This includes resources from across the region - this will not change. The nearest stations to Matakana Island are Tauranga and Ōmokoroa - they will respond when needed. Other support will also be responded when required. The Matakana Island Volunteer Island Fire Brigade has 18 members and specialises in responding to vegetation fires on the Island. Last year they responded to two calls."

"As always, we ask the community to be extra vigilant with fire safety. Make sure your smoke alarms are working and you have an escape plan. Go to www.escapemyhouse.co.nz - it takes just three steps. If there is a fire, get out and stay out. Don’t overload your multiboards. Don’t leave your cooking unattended. If you are going to light a fire, please be safe and make sure you follow the conditions of your fire permit. It’s important to pay attention to the particular requirements and safety recommendations of your permit. You find more safety tips for lighting fires at www.checkitsalright.nz. More tips to help you prevent a fire can be found at https://fireandemergency.nz/at-home/."

"No matter what, Fire and Emergency is committed to serving our communities across Aotearoa. We will still be responding to emergencies right across the country."

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