UFBA chair 'satisfied' with NZ's firefighter vaccine rate

He estimates that only a 'few hundred' are not fully vaccinated as mandate takes effect

UFBA chair 'satisfied' with NZ's firefighter vaccine rate

The chairperson of the United Fire Brigades’ Association (UFBA) has expressed overall satisfaction at the number of vaccinated firefighters and fire volunteers in New Zealand after the deadline passed.

January 14 was the scheduled deadline of the government for firefighters to get fully immunised against COVID-19, and according to statistics from the Fire and Emergency New Zealand, almost 95% of paid staff and 90% of volunteers have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

UFBA chairman Peter Dunne told Radio New Zealand that probably "a few hundred out" out of the 11,500 firefighters nationwide are not already fully vaccinated - and he is "overall satisfied" with the figure.

"Obviously, you'd like to have 100% but clearly in this environment that's always not gonna be possible," he told the Morning Report. "So overall satisfied, I think it will mean that a good standard of fire cover can be maintained around the country."

According to Dunne, the Fire and Emergency NZ as well as the UFBA "have done everything" to ensure that all firefighters get vaccinated.

"I think is this is really the story of the general population. It's not specific to firefighters as I say the average here is about the same as the general population and it's a matter of more knowledge, more awareness, and general education," he said.

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The UFBA chair said with the mandate in place, those who are unvaccinated could be shifted to non-frontline roles if feasible. He also hinted that they could also possibly give in to pressures from the community regarding vaccinations.

"We represent volunteers which means we can't actually tell volunteers what to do because of the very nature of their being volunteers. We've merely encouraged them to make the right core and it's pretty clear from the figures that the vast majority have," he said. 

Dunne also said he is not worried over the number of stood down firefighters as cover remains maintained despite the decision.

"In some places it may well be that there's a bit of a challenge but the great thing about New Zealand volunteers and the fire services generally is that they all work together to cooperate to make sure they've got coverage," he pointed out.

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