Firefighters black entire unsafe fleet

Posted: January 11, 2017 by Admin in Alienation, At the coalface, Class Matters, Firefighters, Unions - NZ, Workers' rights, Workplace injuries and deaths
Faulty trucks at Otahuhu Fire Service workshop

Faulty trucks at Otahuhu Fire Service workshop

by Susanne Kemp

Auckland firefighters have blacked an entire fleet of Fraser-MAN fire trucks.  The union ban on the trucks follows months of disquiet over the trucks.

Back in August last year, for instance, the union began trying to resolve issues related to these trucks.  Auckland firefighters were forced to black an appliance due to safety concerns.  The Auckland City fire truck carrying the life-saving “jaws of life” rescue equipment was found to be faulty and had to be taken off the road.

In October a AGM of Auckland firefighters expressed frustration and anger over the pumping and  pump-rescue appliances on these trucks.  At the time, the Auckland local of the union produced a comprehensive account of the problems with the trucks and rebuttal of the stalling and arse-covering antics of fleet management at national headquarters.

The Auckland local noted, among other things, “A proper trial involving a few prototypes would likely have avoided the current situation, a situation where $20 million of levy payers’ money has been wasted on a fleet of lemons with irretrievably bad DNA. A situation where vehicles less than six months old are literally coming apart at the seams (Christchurch). Where vehicles have had their wiring interfered with to the point where they won’t start when called upon to respond. Where pumps will not go into gear or drop out, where throttles do not engage or cease working, where doors pop open at random and inopportune moments.”

In fact, issues with the trucks had been pointed out by firefighters months before this too.

So the ban has not come out of the blue, nor been undertaken lightly.

Things came to a head last Friday at a house fire in Manurewa.  Firefighters inside a burning house in Lawrence Crescent were confronted with the awful scenario of their engine’s pump suddenly losing pressure.

As the union notes, “The consequences could have been serious, as it meant water could not be pumped while firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out their overhaul.

“Fortunately, firefighters had completed their search of the home when the flow of water reduced to a trickle.  Crews were able to safely withdraw from danger.”

What was especially galling for many firefighters was that the Fire Service had claimed to have remedied this fault, which had been identified months earlier by union members.

NZPFU Auckland Local Vice President Boyd Raines says “yet another ‘fix’ has failed to stick.  These vehicles have suffered a myriad of electrical faults.”

The union also reports, “A leaked photo of the Fire Service’s workshop in Otahuhu shows that faulty trucks litter the forecourt. Of the fleet of eleven, the photo shows six of the broken fire engines abandoned on a concrete pad.  A further three, out of order, sit deserted behind the fence.”

Boyd Raines says “those residents living in the Auckland suburbs of Grey Lynn and Remuera are Fire Service Levy payers too.  They deserve better; the risk to firefighters and the public is too great.

“Auckland Firefighters have completely lost faith in these Fraser-MAN appliances. The incident on Friday eroded the last vestiges of trust our members had in these vehicles.”

While the blacking is mainly in Auckland, firefighters have also blacked one appliance in Christchurch and one in Wellington.

See more Firefighters articles on Redline.

  1. […] Firefighters black entire unsafe fleet January 11, 2017 […]

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