Organisations or members of the public who disagree with something Fire and Emergency has or has not done, or a decision Fire and Emergency has made, can apply to have their dispute resolved through the Fire and Emergency Scheme. You can also use the Fire and Emergency Scheme to appeal a firebreak notice (section 62 of the Act) or a removal or destruction of vegetation notice (section 65 of the Act). It is free to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme – there are no application costs or fees.
Fire and Emergency complaints process
Before you use the Fire and Emergency Scheme, you should try and resolve your dispute. Members of the public or organisations who disagree with something Fire and Emergency has or has not done, or a decision Fire and Emergency has made, should first make a complaint to Fire and Emergency.
If you are not happy with the outcome of the complaints process, or believe it is taking too long for Fire and Emergency to respond to your complaint, you can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme. You can give us information about the complaints process you have followed as part of your application. For example, you may wish to provide us with a copy of an email you received in response to your complaint.
Types of disputes
Your dispute might relate to things like:
- fire safety, including providing guidance on the safe use of fire as a land management tool
- fire prevention, response, and suppression services
- how Fire and Emergency has responded to an incident (such as fire emergencies, medical emergencies, or motor vehicle crashes)
- safe handling, labelling, signage, storage, and transportation of hazardous substances
- decisions around fire plans
- prohibiting a person from lighting a fire in an open area or accessing an area
- imposed fire season restrictions
- a fire permit application that is granted or declined
- firebreaks or removal of fire hazards
- conduct of Fire and Emergency personnel or a Local Advisory Committee member toward a member of the public
Your dispute might be with Fire and Emergency as an organisation, particular personnel or a group of personnel (such as a brigade). You will be asked who your dispute is with when you make the application.
Making an application
If you are ready to apply, you can complete our online application form. For other ways to send us your application and further information about what you’ll need to provide, see Making an Application.
Time for making an application
Fire and Emergency will notify you of the outcome of your complaint. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme within 90 days of receiving that notice. Applications that are made later than this will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.
If you consider there is a good reason not to make an initial complaint directly to Fire and Emergency first, you may still be able to apply. Complete the application form and tell us why you think engaging with Fire and Emergency directly would be inappropriate for your dispute.
You may also be able to apply if you consider that Fire and Emergency has been slow to respond to your complaint. If it has been at least 90 days since you made the complaint/engaged with Fire and Emergency regarding your complaint, you can complete the application form and let us know what steps have been taken so far to resolve your complaint.
Appeals under section 34 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017
You have the right to appeal:
- firebreak notices (section 62 of the Act)
- removal or destruction of vegetation notices (section 65 of the Act)
Please note that appeals must be made within 14 days of receiving a notice from Fire and Emergency. In this situation, you do not have to make a complaint to Fire and Emergency before applying to the Scheme.
Making an application
Time for making an application
Please note that appeals against a firebreak notice or removal or destruction of vegetation notice must be made within 14 days of you receiving that notice. ICRA is not able to accept applications that are made outside this timeframe.
Disputes that cannot be considered by the Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme
The Fire and Emergency Scheme cannot consider some disputes. If you have any questions, are unsure whether you can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme or just want to know more, please contact our case management team, who are more than happy to help.
We cannot consider disputes that relate to employment matters, such as personal grievances. For those disputes, we recommend you consult the Employment NZ website https://www.employment.govt.nz/.
Fire levy disputes
Fire and Emergency New Zealand is mainly funded by a levy on contracts of insurance where property is insured against the risk of fire. Matters related to the Fire and Emergency Levy cannot be considered by the Scheme. If you have a complaint regarding this, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the levy is available on the Fire and Emergency website.
Disputes with Fire and Emergency personnel that are personal in nature
You can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme if your dispute relates to Fire and Emergency personnel acting in that capacity. However, the Scheme cannot be used to resolve interpersonal disputes that may occur outside of the Fire and Emergency context. For example, disputes about how that person is behaving when not performing their role for Fire and Emergency.
Issues with the Local Advisory Committees or Ministers
The Scheme cannot be used to resolve policy disputes, for example about decisions made by Ministers or decisions made by or about Local Advisory Committees (LACs) in relation to matters set out in sections 14 to 20 of the Act.
However, disputes relating to members of LACs that:
- do not relate to sections 14 to 20 of the Act;
- have gone through an internal complaints process; and
- are not otherwise excluded from the Scheme’s jurisdiction,
may be considered by the Scheme. The most likely subject matter of such disputes relates to conduct of an LAC member either toward a member of the public or a Fire and Emergency volunteer.
Official information or privacy disputes
The Ombudsmen’s Office or the Office of the Privacy Commissioner may be able to assist with these issues:
About the Fire and Emergency dispute resolution Scheme
Learn more about the Scheme
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