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New fire service comes into effect

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/06/2017

A new fire service will reflect the modern funding and working conditions that firefighters face today, according to new legislation.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand is the name of the new organisation that brings together more than 40 rural, urban, career and volunteer services across the country from Saturday, affecting more than 14,000 employees.

The names New Zealand Fire Service and Rural Fire Authority will cease to exist.

New Zealand Fire Service Commission chair Paul Swain says the new organisation will give New Zealand's firefighters the support they need to protect and help prepare their communities now and into the future.

"Our firefighters are highly respected and trusted and do a great job already, but their roles are changing all the time," he said.

"Firefighters once just focused on fire. Now they do a lot more, responding to motor vehicle crashes, medical emergencies, hazardous materials spillages, storms, floods, earthquakes and a wide range of rescue situations."

Updated legislation and the new organisation gives firefighters appropriate powers and funding, Mr Swain said, but the public will notice little change as fire crews continue to respond to emergencies.

Former Chief of Defence Force, Rhys Jones, is the Fire and Emergency New Zealand's first chief executive.

The urban and rural firefighting structures will be integrated in the next three years.

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