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Questions asked about lack of LAC

Despite a legal requirement and the passage of five years, Fire and Emergency [Fenz] is yet to establish a Local Advisory Committee for Wairarapa, and cannot confirm a timeframe for implementation.
Fenz uses local plans as a centrepiece for gauging the right number of firefighters, engines and equipment to identify and respond to local risks from fires, floods and other emergencies. Without them, firefighters have complained it’s “hard to see where the gaps are”.
A Fenz Spokesperson said Fenz had established 16 local area LAC boundaries, including a boundary for the Wellington area that includes Wairarapa. Of those 16, just seven have been established.
“The first seven Local Advisory Committees were established on the West Coast, in Northland, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Chatham Islands, and Otago in June 2020.
“In 2021 an evaluation was undertaken of the LACs’ first year of operation and lessons learnt are informing the establishment of the remaining LACs.
“Work is underway on options for the rollout of the remaining LACs across the country.”
Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti said last week the work was “very slow” but did not believe Fenz was breaking the law.
“I will seek further advice around whether that is within the legislative requirements or not.
“The way that I read it, is that they are moving towards that.”
LACs are made up of local community members who help inform Fenz of particular issues or challenges a region might face to help better the emergency response to that region.
Each LAC includes a Chair and Deputy Chair and has up to nine members. Members appointments are for up to three years, with the possibility of reappointment.
Wairarapa assistant commander Craig Cottrill said the Wellington District had only one LAC, and that was for Chatham Islands.
“Effectively what we do is we go out into the community and we seek nominations from suitable people.
“It creates another avenue and a link between the community and the board.”
Cottrill said he could not confirm the implementation for Wairarapa’s committee, but said he was across all meetings held with the Chatham Islands LAC.
“They are very useful, on the Chathams we have five people on the committee including a representative from DoC [department of conservation].
“The groups operate at more of a strategic level, we don’t get too far down in operations. In terms of flooding it would be discussing long term planning, and how do we shape the organisation to respond to the needs of the community.
“It’s a legal requirement that Fenz establishes these boards.”

George Shiers
George Shiers
George Shiers is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age interested in politics and social issues. He reports regularly on a range of topics including infrastructure, housing, and transport. George is also the Tararua reporter and helps cover police, fire and court stories.

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