Regional stakeholders need to be involved in rural fire management

FOA aims for ‘option good’

Published Forestry Bulletin – 30 September 2015

The Forest Owners Association wants to see a new-look rural fire service that is co-ordinated nationally, but with local stakeholders involved in the governance of rural fire districts.

The Department of Internal Affairs' (DIA) Fire Service review is underway. It aims to streamline rural and urban fire services so they are fit for purpose, flexible, modern and efficient. The FOA is one of 230 individuals and organisations to have made submissions.
The 68 page review document gave the reasons for the review and offered three options: enhanced status quo; coordinated service delivery; and one national service.

"From our perspective, option one was sub-optimal," says FOA fire committee chair Grant Dodson. "There is no direct link between rural fire services and the Fire Services Commission. This means there is no solid and consistent legislative base from which rural fire districts can operate and be improved to meet community expectations."

Option three, one national service, was not preferred either. A single organisation based in Wellington would probably not give the rural fire service the priority it needs. Critical stakeholder participation would also likely reduce.
The FOA felt option two could be modified to 'Option Good' to deliver best practice, explains Dodson. This would include national governance, coordination and standard setting, with regional governance of Enhanced Rural Fire Districts (ERFDs) with representation from key local stakeholders.

Dodson has been "pretty happy" with the consultation process so far. DIA representatives have worked well with the FOA and other stakeholders.

"FOA has put forward its view, but we need to work with other key stakeholders, many of whom have a more optimistic view of option three, one national service. That said, many of them share our interest in ensuring rural fire management is adequately protected," he says.
"It's a case of finding a balance between national coordination and rural autonomy and flexibility."

DIA staff are currently pulling together all the submissions and will propose two revised options. Dodson expects these to be discussed with key stakeholders, including FOA. The next step will be a paper for decision by cabinet by the end of the year and if all goes well, legislation will be introduced into the House next year.

More: For copies of submissions and more information: http://tiny.cc/FSR


Home News Centre Articles FOA aims for ‘option good’