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Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do we need new fire legislation?
A: New Zealand currently has two systems of fire control, an urban-based Fire Service with wide fire and other rescue responsibilities, and a rural one focussed on wildfires. This dual framework is poorly integrated and gives rise to confusion, for example, around who is responsible for fires in some areas. There are also shortcomings in the mandate to provide the wider rescue services currently provided by both systems. For example, there is no statutory provision for rural firefighters to attend non-fire incidents. These problems are compounded by funding and service level inequities.
Q: Will there be only one fire service in the future?
A: The aim is to achieve one integrated management system across the whole country. This does not necessarily mean that the Fire Service will take over rural fire functions. All options will be explored and there will always be a need for specialised services such as for wildfire operational capability and other special rescue skills.
Q: Will there still be a place for volunteers?
A: Yes. Volunteers are a highly valued part of the system and there are no intentions to change this.
Q: Will the project deal with problems of different areas having different levels of service.
A: Not directly. The project will not be making judgements about levels of resources or services in particular areas. It will, however, create the kind of management framework that is best able to deal with all operational and resourcing issues, including service level inequities.
Q: Will a Fire Service levy become part of rates?
A: No. Rates are raised for local government services. A fire levy, while it may be based on some aspects of a property, could not be a part of rates, though it would be possible to collect such a levy at the same time as rates payments. This might prove to be a cost effective collection method that did not inconvenience property owners. Decisions on the funding system will be made after decisions on exactly what is to be funded.
Q: Will local government collect the levy?
A: This is undecided. Someone has to collect Fire Service levies. If they are to be based on some attributes of property, then local government will have a key interest in how this is done. Local government is also already involved in the funding and running of rural fire services. This is why Local Government New Zealand has participated in the government’s project team. Decisions will be based on what collection system would be most reliable and cost effective.
Last updated: 05/04/2005