Slow down on the way to fight fires or you could be liable for prosecution, NZ Police tell firefighters' union

A union has told Auckland fire engine drivers to slow down on the way to emergencies following a police legal opinion that firefighters who exceed the maximum speed rating of tyres risk prosecution. 

New Zealand Professional Firefighters' Union Auckland local secretary John Waldow says factory fitted 'M-rated' tyres are rated for speeds up to 130km/h.

However cheaper, inferior J-rated fitted to some fire engines have a maximum speed rating of just 100km/h and no safety speed margin, he says.

The discovery has forced the union in Auckland to instruct its members to put the brakes on.

Fire and Emergency NZ Response Driving Policy allows for firefighters who are responding to emergencies to respond at up to 105km/h.  

But the Police Commercial Safety Team has issued the union with a legal opinion laying out the consequences for firefighters who exceed the maximum speed rating of the tyres, Mr Waldow says. 

Consequently, fire engines responding to calls for emergencies on motorways or using the open road as response routes will be driven at slower speeds resulting in delayed arrival times, he says.

The union has slammed Fire and Emergency NZ, claiming the tyres are not fit for purpose and says fire bosses have not acted on health and safety concerns quickly enough, a decision they say, puts the community at risk.

"This will result in our delayed arrival to people's emergencies.  Any delay in the response of fire appliances or emergency vehicles could ultimately lead to a loss of life" Mr Waldow says.

The union claims this unfortunate action is due to the employer's attempts at saving money by fitting cheaper, inferior tyres to its frontline fire appliances at the expense of the public and firefighters.

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