Our History

Membership to the UFBA

1878 - Fire Police Witness the Birth

The Christchurch Fire Police Unit under Captain Mitchell was prominent in the United Fire Brigades' Association right from its beginning. The city's fire fighters and fire police were both named in the toast thanking the hosts of the founding-meeting in1878. Captain Mitchell later led 23 members of the Christchurch Fire Police through the streets of the city in the first torchlight procession associated with the UFBA's formation. There is no record that the Christchurch Fire Police took up separate membership in the UFBA, they were probably accepted as part and parcel of the Christchurch Brigade.

Turn of the Century

There is plenty of documented evidence that Fire Police Corps were members of the UFBA.

  Joined the UFBA Resigned/Amalgamated
Napier Fire Police and Salvage Corps 1895 1900 Defunct
Masterton Fire Police (unknown) 1914 Defunct
Hawera Fire Police 1905 1911 Defunct
Hastings Fire Police 1908 1917 Defunct

It is noted that a member of the Napier Fire Police and Salvage Corps was awarded a Gold Star medal during that Corp's membership of the UFBA.

At the UFBA's 1901 Annual General Meeting it was resolved that a long service medal would be struck for members of Fire Police and Salvage Corps and conditions of entitlement would be drawn up and submitted to the next Annual General Meeting. There is no further mention of this initiative, but a medal was designed by the noted medallist and sculptor, Teutenberg, with one of these issued in 1915.

In 1905 the UFBA invited the Wellington Fire Police Corps to join, but Corps members turned down the invitation.

Membership Denied

The attitude towards Fire Police had changed by 1933 when Auckland Corps sought membership, supported by others, with a formal application pleadingly put at the UFBA's Annual General Meeting. This triggered the UFBA to survey Fire Police Units throughout New Zealand.

1934's AGM was told that 8 Brigades had replied, and it was known there were 3 other Corps in Auckland and Wellington. The meeting resolved that Fire Police could not belong to the UFBA. Fire Police were denied membership, out in the cold, for 50 years before there was to be a change, despite periodic applications to join in the 40s and 50s.

Fire Police Out On Their Own

Some members of Fire Police Corps saw the void in the late 1960s: no organisation to represent them with no opportunity for fire policemen to meet and discuss affairs that were of interest to them. Taranaki and Auckland, among others, formed provincial associations of Fire Police Corps to provide local contact between Fire Police. This led to thoughts of a national organisation.

In 1969 at Wanganui 15 Corps were interested enough to consider forming a nation-wide organisation of fire police. A UFBA representative who was present reiterated that membership of the UFBA was not on for Fire Police, but he offered no objection to the proposed National Association of Fire Police. In fact he said it could be formed under the stewardship of the UFBA. The new organisation was founded then and there. This representation of Fire Police continued with the National Fire Police Association holding Annual Meetings at various locations, also attended by a senior executive of the Fire Service. The Association designed and struck its own Fire Police service medals. Thus, in many cases, volunteer service by fire policemen was tangibly recognised for the first time. (Some Fire Police had, however, previously been receiving service honours provided by Fire Boards).

Reconsideration

1981's UFBA Annual Conference in Gisborne first seriously discussed letting Fire Police join the UFBA but there appeared little urgency to further the matter, though some follow-up talks were held.

The 1982 UFBA's Annual Conference indicated it would consider membership of fire police at its next annual meeting, subject to one or two conditions being fulfilled, including the disbanding of the National Fire Police Association. The UFBA appointed a committee to finalise a proposal.

In 1983 The National Fire Police Association's AGM was told of the conditions that would have to be met before Fire Police could be members of the UFBA. Most Units agreed that the merits of belonging outweighed conditions being imposed.

Reinstatement At Last

1984 UFBA's Annual Conference at Greymouth approved the membership of Fire Police after the New Zealand Fire Service Commission sought to unify Fire Police (uniforms, rank, funding, agreements for service, absorption into Brigades etc).

After a few hiccups over procedural matters, Fire Police were again eligible for membership of the UFBA some 105 years after helping host the Association's inaugural meeting, and 66 years after the last-mentioned membership, Hastings Fire Police in 1917. With the dissolution of the National Fire Police Association and an administrative tidy-up, Fire Police were finally welcomed back into the membership of the UFBA. One of the conditions were that Fire Police Medals would be replaced by UFBA service honours.

Fire Police, now part of the wider UFBA "family", were no longer merely observers without speaking rights at annual UFBA Conferences and it wasn't too long before they were submitting remits and fully participating in debate and other Conference activities as well as being voted on to the executive committees of Provincial and District Sub Associations. And in 2007 a fire policeman was the first person to be appointed to the UFBA's Board of Directors under the organisation's new constitution.