Volunteer firefighters are responding to 63 per cent of road crashes and 55 per cent of all medical emergency call outs across New Zealand.
This is according to the United Fire Brigades Association.
"About 85 per cent of the New Zealand’s frontline firefighters are volunteers who can be found in every NZ community, whether remote, rural, provincial or metropolitan," says UFBA board chair,Peter Dunne.
Peter Dunne was the former Department of Internal Affairs Minister responsible for Fire and Emergency NZ, and the former Minister for Ambulance services.
"At the heart of volunteerism, is a person who willingly gives of their time to serve and protect their community. New Zealand has more than 11,500 volunteer firefighters who respond to emergencies across 95 per cent of the country."
The number of medical call outs has increased since the former New Zealand Fire Service agreed to further support St John in 2014, to a point where the number of medical call outs each year (14,969), now exceeds the number of structure and vegetation fires (9898), says Dunne.
"Volunteer firefighters respond to over half of all medical call-outs," says Dunne.
"Most brigades co-respond with an ambulance service, however, some volunteer fire brigades are also First Response Units - meaning they are the only medical emergency service provider in their community. These FRUs are trained to an Emergency Medical Technician standard.
"The United Fire Brigades Association acknowledges the psychological impact that exposure to these types of emergencies can have on brigades and individuals, we are a strong advocate for an accessible and holistic approach to mental wellbeing support and encourage the use of the FENZ provided support services available to all firefighters."
The United Fire Brigades’ Association is the largest representative organisation of firefighters in New Zealand and has been supporting fire brigades for 144 years.
The annual economic value to New Zealand Tax Payers of Volunteer firefighters, as determined in an independent report commissioned by the UFBA, is $659 million.
A 20-year analysis of all Response trends for Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s volunteer brigades(1999-2019)
- Vegetation fires, 68 per cent volunteer;
- Road crash, 63 per cent volunteer;
- Medical response, 55 per cent volunteer;
- Rescue calls, 49 per cent volunteer;
- Structure fires, 47 per cent volunteer;
- False alarms, 28 per cent volunteer.
"The UFBA proudly celebrates Aotearoa as a volunteering nation and the important work carried out by volunteer firefighters for their community is held in high regard," says Dunne.