Christchurch firefighters walk off the job, as part of nationwide strike

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 19, 2022 |

Photo: Chris Lynch

Christchurch firefighters walked off the job today for one hour, as part of nationwide strike action.

Professional firefighters are wanting better pay, more resources, and more support.

Staff from Woolston Fire Station went on strike on Ferry Road, although not all could make it after being called out to an emergency.

Woolston Senior firefighter Jeff Taylor told Chris Lynch firefighters had been “seriously let down by FENZ management.”

We never wanted to walk off the job, but when you’re backed into a corner and up against the wall, this is our only option.

The wheels have fallen off FENZ and the pay rise is just one spoke of that wheel.

We’re talking about firefighters catching cancer. We’re talking about fire appliances breaking down nationally.

Woolston Senior firefighter Jeff Taylor / Photo: Chris Lynch

28 year old fire appliances!”

Mr Taylor said an example was the scrap metal yard fire in Woolston where four trucks broke down.

“I think from here, what we need to see is the government actually stepping in and forcing FENZ to actually take note and do something about it.

The wife of a firefighter, Kate Herriott was also at the Woolston strike on Ferry Road.

She said “it’s about making sure that my husband is recognised.

“He currently works 80 to 100 hour weeks. He’s exposed to so much trauma on a daily basis.

And it’s so sad to me when he comes home and he has seen child trauma.

He’s seen people who have committed suicide.

He’s resuscitated six people. He’s been to a fire all in one shift. And then he does a 24-hour shift and then more of those on top of each other.

And yet the government and FENZ are not supporting them.”

Mr Taylor said “FENZ management had their head in the sand.

Woolston firefighters and staff on Ferry Road, during one hour strike.

They’re not prepared to step back up to the table. They’re forcing us into the strike.

It’s only the government that can step up. Where is Jan Tinetti? She’s the minister here and she’s not to be seen.”

Fire and Emergency NZ said it was alerted to 12 incidents in urban areas during the strike period.

Deputy National Commander Brendan Nally said Fire and Emergency had contingency plans ready to respond to emergencies.

“All 111 for Fire calls were answered and we responded to serious emergencies as we said we would.

Volunteer crews responded to these incidents as is usual when career crews are unavailable.”

Nally said “it was fortunate no serious fires or other emergencies that we would normally respond to occurred during this full strike by NZPFU members.

Reaching a resolution with the NZPFU is a top priority.

We have applied to the Employment Relations Authority for facilitated bargaining because we believe negotiations with the NZPFU have reached an impasse and we have little chance of reaching a settlement without the Authority’s help.

I once again urge the NZPFU to withdraw its current strike notices while this facilitation process occurs.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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