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FAQs
Topic FAQ Answer
Installing smoke alarms Where should smoke alarms be placed? Smoke alarms need to be in every bedroom and in the lounge and hallways.
  What is the best position in the room to place a smoke alarm? Ideally, place the smoke alarms in the middle of the ceiling.
  Are there places I shouldn't put smoke alarms? Don't put smoke alarms in the kitchen, garage or bathrooms unless they are specially designed for those areas.
Smoke alarm maintenance Do smoke alarms need to be cleaned? Yes. Clean smoke alarms with a vacuum cleaner once a month.
  How often should smoke alarms be tested? Ideally, once a month while cleaning them. Test the smoke alarm by pushing the test button.
  How often do smoke alarms batteries need to be changed? We recommend you install long-life smoke alarms as they provide about 10 years of smoke detection without having to change batteries. If you don’t have long-life alarms, batteries must be changed once a year. Time this to recur on a regular date (such as on New Year’s day, the end of daylight saving or a family member’s birthday).
Types of smoke alarms Are there different types of smokes alarms? There are two types of smoke alarms. One type is called an ionization alarm, and the other is a photo-electric.
  What is the difference between the different types of smoke alarms? The ionization alarm monitors the ions, or electrically charged particles. Smoke particles enter the sensing chamber changing the electrical balance of the air. The alarm will sound when the change in the electrical balance reaches a certain level.The photo-electric smoke alarm has a sensing chamber that uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the sensor. The alarm sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.
  Which type of smoke alarm is better? It depends on the type of fire. The ionization alarm responds faster to rapid flaming fires, while the photoelectric responds faster to smouldering fires. Although the response time of the two alarms will vary depending on the type of fire, the difference in response times is small enough that both types provide enough time to escape. The number of smoke alarms you have is more important than the type. Note: BRANZ recommends photo-electric type smoke alarms in the living area and ionization type smoke alarms in the hall and bedrooms.
Fire extinguishers Where in the household should a fire extinguisher be installed? Fire extinguishers should be wall mounted above the reach of children, and in or near the kitchen.
  Aside from the kitchen, where else should a fire extinguisher be placed? Ideally have another extinguisher in the garage and one in the car
  When would I need to use a fire extinguisher? When access to the fire is unrestricted and a safe retreat is possible at all times
Fire blankets What is a fire blanket for? Fire blankets are useful for covering cooking related fires, for wrapping around a person to smother a clothing fire or using as a cover to escape through flames.
Marae fire safety Why does the New Zealand Fire Service want to protect marae and whare tawhito? The Fire Service wants to preserve and protect marae and whare tawhito because they are irreplaceable.
  What steps can be taken to prevent a fire in a marae? It is our recommendation that you install a combination of fire
safety systems into your marae. A sprinkler system and smoke
alarms will provide the highest level of protection if a fire occurs.
Rural living What factors can hinder the Fire Service? Large areas, imperfect road conditions especially during winter months and lack of adequate water supply can delay quick intervention by the Fire Service. 
  What is the most important thing rural dwellers need to do to make sure the emergency services can get to their property quickly? Signpost your property. Rural property numbers are invaluable for a quick response by emergency vehicles.
  What else is important for rural dwellers to do to make their properties safer from fire? Make sure emergency vehicles have easy access to your property and ensure an adequate water supply is close by. 
Caravans and sleepouts Why do caravans and sleepouts have a much greater fire danger than houses? Caravans and sleepouts are much smaller than houses and may have many electrical appliances in close proximity, significantly increasing the fire danger.
  What should you NEVER use in a caravan or sleepout? NEVER use candles in a sleepout; they are too dangerous.
  What type of heaters are best to use in a caravan or sleepout? Used fixed heaters only, and make sure furniture and fittings are at least one meter from the heater. Fan heaters with a cut off switch are the safest.
Fire education What is Firewise? Firewise is a fire safety education course for children.
  Why are children the major focus of the Fire Service's fire safety education? Children are a particularly receptive audience. They quickly and easily adapt their behaviour and influence their family. By encouraging children to be fire wise they become conduits of fire safety information into their homes.
  How do I get my children to do a Firewise course? Firewise education is available to schools free of charge. Check with your child's school to see if they offer it. If they don't, but are interested, they can contact info@getfirewise.org.nz
What to do in a fire What is the first thing to do in a fire? Get down, get low, get out!
  What else can you do in a fire? Shut doors behind you to slow the spread of fire. Meet at the planned meeting place. Once out, stay out – never go back inside. Phone the Fire Service from a safe phone.
  What if someone is still inside the burning house? Once out, stay out. NEVER go back inside. Phone the Fire Service from a safe phone.
After a fire When can I go back into my fire damaged house safely? Do not enter your damaged house unless you have to and have been advised it is safe to do so. The Fire Service will check the water, electricity and gas supplies and either arrange to have them disconnected or advise you what action to take.
  What if it is not safe to go back into the house? If you can’t enter your home, you’ll need to arrange accommodation. You may need to stay with family, friends or in a motel for at least one night, and longer if the house has been seriously damaged.
  When I'm allowed back in my fire damaged home, what things should I look for? When your house is safe and you are allowed back, try to find your identification, insurance information, medication information, eye glasses, hearing aid, wallet and valuables.
Who to contact Who should I contact first? If you cannot go back to your house it may be best to contact family and friends as you may need to arrange alternative accommodation.
  I have insurance, who should I contact? If you are insured call your insurance company, agent or broker as soon as possible. Find out what you are required to do, such as secure the house and make a list of damaged items. 
  What if I don't have insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, depending on the seriousness of the damage, it may take some time to get back on your feet. Who to contact for help:

- Victim Support

- Work and Income

- Housing New Zealand

- your church

- The Salvation Army

- local support agencies.

Fire prevention What is the first thing I can do to protect my family from fire? Install smoke alarms.
  What is the best way to save my property from fire? Home sprinklers provide 24/7 protection of your family’s lives, home and contents and in most cases a sprinkler will put out a fire without the family even knowing they had one.
  How much do home sprinklers cost? The cost of installing home sprinklers into a new house or adding them as part of renovations works out at around $350 per sprinkler head and the average house would need between seven and ten sprinkler heads. Home sprinklers can be just part of the domestic plumbing system, using the same water that feeds your kitchen taps and laundry.
Flood or natural disaster What should I do if my house has flooded? Contact your local council and/or insurance company to have your house inspected and damaged assessed.
  What is the best way to clean up flood damage? Ask your council for advice on cleaning up debris safely.
  My home has been damaged by a fire caused by a natural disaster and I have a valid insurance policy. Who should I contact? If your home was damaged by a fire caused by a natural disaster and you had a valid fire insurance policy, you may be eligible for a payment from the Earthquake Commission. You must contact EQC within 30 days. Freephone 0800 652 333 or visit www.eqc.govt.nz
Restoring your property How do I restore flood damaged property? Depending on the extent of damage, you may need to hire professional fire and water damage restorers. Check the Yellow Pages under ‘flood and fire restoration work’.
  Can I still salvage food exposed to fire?

Food.

- Discard food, drinks and medicine exposed to the fire, smoke or water.


It is not safe.

- Wash tins and jars in detergent and water. Don’t eat tinned food if the tin has bulged or rusted. Don’t refreeze thawed food.

  Can you still use electrical appliances salvaged from a fire? Have all electrical appliances that have been salvaged from a fire checked by an electrician.
General vacancies How many people work for the New Zealand Fire Service? There are 1780 career firefighter positions, 8100 urban volunteer firefighters, 550 management and support positions and 76 communication centre staff positions. 
  Are there volunteer roles other than being a firefighter? Yes, there are a range of volunteer skills needed.
International enquires Can I transfer to a New Zealand fire brigade if I am a member of an overseas brigade? It is currently not possible to transfer from an overseas brigade (although there are rare exceptions for some high level or extremely specialised positions.
  I have just been employed by the New Zealand Fire Service. Can I transfer my superannuation/pension savings from another country? There is an opportunity to transfer your current superannuation / pension savings from the United Kingdom and other countries to the New Zealand Fire Service Superannuation scheme if you were to be employed by the New Zealand Fire Service. How this is achieved depends very much on each individual's circumstances.
Firefighter exchange What countries participate in the firefighter exchange programme? Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada, Sweden and Ireland. Other countries may participate in the near future.
Our people Who is the National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service? Paul Baxter is both the Chief Executive and National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service.
  Who is the chairperson of the Fire Service Commission? Paul Swain is the chairperson of the Fire Service Board.
Vehicles How many appliances does the New Zealand Fire Service own? The New Zealand Fire Service has about 800 appliances.
Uniform rank markings Why are there different marking on fire helmets? Markings on helmets represent different rankings within the Fire Service.
  What is the highest firefighter rank? The National Commander is the highest ranked firefighter.
Use of Fire Service logo Can I use the New Zealand Fire Service logo to promote my business? The New Zealand Fire Service emblem is protected by legislation and the Fire Service has strict criteria about the use of its logo and image. Any person or organisation requesting access to the logo must have written permission. Permission can be sought from the National Communications Manager, New Zealand Fire Service, PO Box 2133, Wellington.
  Can I use an image of a New Zealand Fire Service truck on my website? The New Zealand Fire Service emblem is protected by legislation and the Fire Service has strict criteria about the use of its logo and image. This criteria also applies to the use of any Fire Service property (e.g. trucks, stations and uniforms) or imagery of our personnel. Any person or organisation requesting access to any of this material must have written permission. Permission can be sought from the National Communications Manager, New Zealand Fire Service, PO Box 2133, Wellington.
  Can I use an image of a firefighter on a brochure to promote my product? The New Zealand Fire Service emblem is protected by legislation and the Fire Service has strict criteria about the use of its logo and image. This criteria also applies to the use of any Fire Service property (e.g. trucks, stations and uniforms) or imagery of our personnel. Any person or organisation requesting access to any of this material must have written permission. Permission can be sought from the National Communications Manager, New Zealand Fire Service, PO Box 2133, Wellington.
Strategic direction What is the Fire Service's vision? Leading integrated fire and emergency services for a safer New Zealand.
  What are the Fire Service Board's strategic priorities?
  • Leading - NZFS will understand the vision, know what we need to do to achieve it and have the right training and development to support us.
  • Integrated - NZFS will have improved how we work between ourselves and with our stakeholders.
  • Fire and emergency services - NZFS will have improved our approach to incident management, including medical response.
  • Safer New Zealand -  NZFS will know which risk reduction programmes work and which don’t, and we’ll know where the gaps are in our approach to safety.
Annual report What is in the annual report? The annual report sets out the results the New Zealand Fire Service Board has achieved against its annual plan (Statement of Intent). The annual report describes some of the key events that have occurred during each year, sets out the key results and the financial performance of the Board against its intended performance.
  How often does the annual report come out? The Board's annual report is formally tabled in Parliament each year and is analysed by select committees to judge whether the Board has delivered value to New Zealand communities.
Levy rates What is the Fire Service levy on residential property? Fire Service Levy is payable on all assets insured against the risk of fire, but residential buildings and personal property are subject to a limit.
Section 48(6) of the Fire Service Act states that the amount for which the property is insured for the contract of fire insurance shall be—
(a) In the case of residential building as defined in section 2(1) of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, the amount for which that building is insured pursuant to section 18 of that Act:
(b) In the case of personal property as defined in section 2(1) of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, the amount for which that property is insured pursuant to section 20 of that Act:
Clarification on the types of buildings that are subject to a limit are in the Earthquake Commission guide at:
http://www.eqc.govt.nz/sites/public_files/insurers-guide-september-2012.pdf
  What is the Fire Service levy on personal property? Fire Service Levy is payable on all assets insured against the risk of fire, but residential buildings and personal property are subject to a limit.
Section 48(6) of the Fire Service Act states that the amount for which the property is insured for the contract of fire insurance shall be—
(a) In the case of residential building as defined in section 2(1) of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, the amount for which that building is insured pursuant to section 18 of that Act:
(b) In the case of personal property as defined in section 2(1) of the Earthquake Commission Act 1993, the amount for which that property is insured pursuant to section 20 of that Act:
Clarification on the types of buildings that are subject to a limit are in the Earthquake Commission guide at:
http://www.eqc.govt.nz/sites/public_files/insurers-guide-september-2012.pdf
  What is the Fire Service Levy on motor vehicles? Levy is payable at a flat rate of $6.08 per motor vehicle not exceeding 3.5 tonnes gross laden weight. Definitions of the terms are in the Land Transport Act and Road User Charges Act.
About the NZFS levy What is the Fire Service levy? The Fire Service levy is used to fund the New Zealand Fire Service. The levy is payable on all insurance contracts covering New Zealand property against loss from fire.
  Is GST added to the levy? Yes. Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 15 percent is charged on all levy payments.
  Who can I contact for more information about the levy? If you are unsure of your obligations or your clients obligations or you require further information please contact: Levy Analyst, New Zealand Fire Service, PO Box 2133, Wellington, Phone: +64 4 496 3656, Fax: +64 4 471 1791,E-mail: Revenue.Analyst@fire.org.nz 
Exemptions Are there any exemptions from the NZFS levy? Section 47B - Third Schedule of the Fire Service Act lists all the exemptions from the Fire Service levy
Payment details What is the best way to pay the levy? You can pay the levy by cheque and direct credit. Our bank account details are: New Zealand Fire Service Board, Bank of New Zealand, North End Branch - Wellington ,02-0536-0062111-00, SWIFT: BKNZNZ22
Doing business with NZFS Where are the tenders advertised? NZFS tenders are almost exclusively published on the Government Electronic Tenders (GETS) site, publishing in any other media is rare. Supplier registration and use of the site is free and suppliers who wish to be advised of NZFS tender opportunities, or for that matter any other Government tender opportunities, are strongly encouraged to complete the online registration process. 
  Who can I contact for information about the New Zealand Fire Service's procurement procedures? Any questions or queries relating to New Zealand Fire Service's procurement should be addressed to: The National Procurement Manager, National Headquarters, PO Box 2133, WELLINGTON. Or questions can be submitted via email to queries@fire.org.nz - please note “For National Procurement Manager” in the subject area.
  What value does a contract need to be over to go out to a competitive public tender? Contracts over $100,000 in total value.
Quick facts How many firefighters are with the New Zealand Fire Service? 10,000
  Where is the busiest fire station in New Zealand? The busiest fire station in New Zealand in 2007 was Auckland City with 3,177 call outs.
Appliance run statistics Are appliances included in the run stats as soon as they leave the station? No, an appliance is only included in the run stats once it has arrived at an incident.
  Are appliance run stats only calculated within the stations first response area? No, appliance run stats are calculated for all incidents an appliance is needed.
Statistics data fields What statistics does the Fire Service record? The fields for all our recorded statistics are available on this site.
  How do I go about getting statistics that aren't available on the site? If the category appears in our recorded statistics data fields, email us for a report.
Managing false alarms How many call outs does Fire Service attend a year? The New Zealand Fire Service attends around 20,529 false alarm calls annually and at some fire stations, false alarms generate from 50 to 70 percent of their callouts.
  Why are there so many false fire alarms? The majority of these calls are generated by automatic fire alarm systems and it is the management of these type of unwanted false alarms that the New Zealand Fire Service promotes.
Why reduce false alarms Are there any consequences of false alarms? The main consequences are that it reduces occupant’s reaction to genuine calls, loss in business productivity, fire appliances can't be utilised at genuine emergencies and it clogs the 111 system.
False alarm prevention Can the design of a building cause false alarms? Yes, Lack of ventilation extraction and smoke reservoirs in kitchen areas are not considered. The design should consider the use of the building to prevent unwanted false alarm activations.
  What are the most common causes of false alarms? The most common causes of false alarms are  fire alarm faults, working environment, contractors or malicious.
False alarm charging Why does the New Zealand Fire Service charge for false alarms? The charges are aimed at recovering some of the costs of the Fire Service response given, and should not be considered a fine. They are also to act as an incentive to reduce false alarms simply by the incurred costs.
  How do I dispute a false alarm charge? If a charge is disputed then a letter must be sent to the false administrator with details of that dispute.
Research - Process Who sets the research priorities? Each year the New Zealand Fire Service Board determines a set of research priorities that will assist them in meeting their mission of reducing the incidence and consequence of fire.
  Where is the fund advertised? The fund is extensively advertised in all major New Zealand daily papers, Government Electronic Tendering System (GETS) and directly to academic and major research institutes.
Research - Background What year was the Contestable Research Fund established? The Contestable Research Fund was established in 1998.
  Who administers the Contestable Research Fund? A Research Advisory Group was formed to administer the fund, the constitution of that group being agreed by the Board at their August 1998 meeting.