Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) anticipates it could lose between five and ten volunteer firefighters in the Mahurangi area following a mandate that they be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Originally, firefighters were required to be vaccinated by November 15, but the deadline was pushed back to November 29 to allow FENZ more time to prepare for the ramifications of the policy.
FENZ group manager Jeremy Gibbons, who is responsible for eight brigades between Puhoi and Wellsford, said last week that all firefighters had been asked if they were vaccinated, but not all have responded.
That meant it was impossible to tell at this stage precisely how many firefighters would have to be stood down should they refuse to be vaccinated or fail to disclose their vaccination status.
Mr Gibbons said despite potential staff losses, FENZ was satisfied fire trucks would still be able to respond to emergencies in Mahurangi.
Local fire chiefs were generally reluctant to talk about attitudes to vaccination in their individual brigades, instead referring enquiries to Mr Gibbons.
However, Leigh Fire Chief Kevin Lawton said he anticipated the vaccination issue would not pose a problem at Leigh – with firefighters there generally being comfortable with the vaccine mandate.
But he said this was not true at other local brigades where anti-vax sentiments ran high.
He said he found these attitudes irritating. Most anti-vax firefighters he had spoken to said the big issue for them was that they did not like being told what to do.
“Really? After all the stuff we do as firefighters that require following rules and regulations. Why are people anti-vax? I have no idea,” he said.