Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme

Frequently asked questions
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How do I apply to the Fire and Emergency Scheme?

If you have made a complaint to Fire and Emergency and you are not happy with the outcome, or believe it is taking too long for Fire and Emergency to respond to your complaint, you can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme.  If you are not sure whether your dispute qualifies for the Fire and Emergency Scheme, see our information pages for volunteers and for members of the public.

The easiest way to apply is by using our online application form.

In general, applications need to be made within 90 days after Fire and Emergency has notified you of the outcome of your complaint.  In some cases, we may be able to accept an application if you have not already tried to resolve the complaint yourself. If you are appealing a decision under sections 33, 62 or 65 of the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017, your application must be made within 14 days after receiving notice of that decision.

If you have any questions or need any help, feel free to contact our case management staff

Do I have to pay anything to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme?

No, it is free to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme. There is no application fee and no charge for using the Scheme.

You do not have to have a lawyer or other representative to use the Scheme. However, if you choose to use the adjudication process and you are successful in the adjudication, the adjudicator might direct the other party to pay your reasonable costs (for example, your legal costs or the costs of obtaining expert advice/opinion on a technical matter) up to a limit of $15,000.


How do I appeal an incapacity decision?

If you are a volunteer who has been given a notice under section 33 of the Act that you must leave Fire and Emergency due to incapacity, you can use the Scheme to appeal this decision.

Applications of this kind must be made to the Fire and Emergency Board. ICRA can help you with that process. Please send us your application in the first instance.

You must apply within 14 days of receiving the notice.  Late applications cannot be accepted.

Like all other disputes, you can choose any of the processes: adjudication, facilitation or mediation. If you choose adjudication, and the adjudicator finds that you should not have been asked to leave Fire and Emergency, the adjudicator can require Fire and Emergency to reinstate you to your former position or a position no less advantageous to you.

Can I have representation or a support person?

Yes, you can.

You may be represented in any dispute resolution process under the Fire and Emergency Scheme by any person, whether legally trained or not.

You may also be supported at any meeting or hearing by up to two support people – they might be family, friends and/or whānau. The number of support people may be greater where the meeting or hearing involves a tikanga Māori or any other cultural process.

How fast will I get a resolution to my dispute?

This will depend on the process you select and the context of your particular dispute. ICRA focusses on delivering efficient dispute resolution processes but will work with you to ensure that all parties have the time needed to participate effectively.

Some issues are time critical. If you think your dispute needs a quick resolution, you can apply for fast-track adjudication. 

What can I do if I think ICRA has unfairly declined my application to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme?

Once you have applied to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme, ICRA will decide whether to accept or decline your application. If we decline your application, we will tell you why. For example, your application may have been made too late, might be in relation to a kind of dispute that cannot be considered by the Scheme, or you might have declined to provide ICRA with information that we think is necessary to be able to assist with your dispute.

If ICRA declines your application, you can ask for that decision to be reviewed. You must ask for the decision to be reviewed no later than 20 working days after you receive notice that ICRA has declined your application. In these cases, the decision will be independently reviewed by an adjudicator. 

Please note that it is not possible for you to apply for a review of ICRA’s decision to decline your application to use fast-track adjudication.

How do I make a complaint directly to Fire and Emergency?

Before you use the Fire and Emergency Scheme, you should try and resolve your dispute directly with Fire and Emergency. This applies to volunteers and members of the public / organisations.  

Complaints from volunteers or members of the public about unwanted behaviour (such as bullying or harassment) should be made to Fire and Emergency’s Behaviour and Conduct Office (BCO).

If you are a volunteer and your complaint does not relate to behaviour and conduct, you should raise it with your manager.

If you are a member of the public and your complaint does not relate to behaviour and conduct, you may wish to raise it using Fire and Emergency’s web form.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the complaints process, or believe it is taking too long for Fire and Emergency to respond to your complaint, you can apply to use the Fire and Emergency Scheme.

Please note that if you are appealing a decision under section 33, 62 or 65 of the Act, you can apply to ICRA directly and do not have to make a complaint to Fire and Emergency first.

Do I have to participate in the Scheme?

If you have a dispute with Fire and Emergency, you are able to apply to use the Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme.  However, you are not required to do so.

If Fire and Emergency is named as the party to a dispute, then a representative from Fire and Emergency will be appointed to represent the organisation.  However, other named individuals or groups (for example, a volunteer brigade) can choose whether or not to participate.

For example: A volunteer says that they were unjustifiably dismissed from a brigade by a Region Manager. The party is Fire and Emergency and the Region Manager may be authorised to represent Fire and Emergency as a party to the mediation. The volunteer says that the dismissal was unjustified because the report arising from the subject incident was flawed in its outcome and the investigation process breached the rules of natural justice. The volunteer says that the person who wrote the report was District Manager Bob Brown. This means Bob Brown is a named person but is not a party.

What can I do if I have feedback or a complaint about the Fire and Emergency Scheme?

We want to make sure we’re providing the best service we can, and we are always looking for ways to improve our processes and our service where there is an opportunity to do so. For this reason, we will contact every person who uses the Fire and Emergency Scheme and ask them for their feedback.

If at any time you wish to make suggestions about how we might improve the dispute resolution processes or our services, make a complaint, or just thank someone who has provided exemplary support/service, please contact our service manager by email at

Can we apply to use the Scheme as a group?

Yes. An application can be made by a group of people. For example, a volunteer brigade or part of a brigade can make an application in its own right.

How do I know who my dispute is with?

When you apply to use the Scheme, we will ask you who your dispute is with.  It could be a particular member of Fire and Emergency personnel, a group of personnel, or Fire and Emergency New Zealand as an organisation.  If you are unsure about who your dispute is with, you can name Fire and Emergency New Zealand as the party to your dispute or speak with one of our case management staff.  

What if I’m not happy with an adjudicator's determination?

The adjudication process is a determinative process. This means that an independent ICRA adjudicator will issue a legally binding determination of the matters in dispute after considering any relevant evidence and submissions put forward by the parties.

If you are not satisfied with the adjudicator’s determination, you may be able to apply for a review of that determination or appeal to the District Court.  For more information about reviewing or appealing the determination, see the Adjudication page.

Will you share my personal information with other people?

We respect your privacy and personal information and understand that information about disputes is sensitive. For more information, please read our privacy and data security policy.

We will ask you if we can share your personal information with Fire and Emergency personnel who are involved in your dispute. This ensures that we can provide procedural fairness: everyone involved must know what’s going on and get to have their say. If you decide that we cannot share your information with other relevant people, we cannot provide dispute resolution services in relation to your complaint/dispute under the Fire and Emergency Scheme.

When an application is accepted into the Scheme, ICRA will also provide written notice to the chief executive of Fire and Emergency (or their delegate) that the dispute has been accepted and the names of the parties to the dispute (Rule 19). This information is shared with Fire and Emergency to ensure that connections are made between a dispute and other matters within the organisation so that they are handled appropriately. All reasonable steps will be taken by the chief executive (or their delegate) to ensure that disclosure of this information will not adversely affect an applicant in their workplace.

In general, no further information is shared without the consent of the parties involved in the dispute resolution process. There are limited exceptions that are set out in Rule 24. These exceptions include where the information is already in the public domain, disclosure is necessary for enforcement, or the dispute resolution practitioner discovers a likely risk of serious harm during the process (in which case the practitioner may, at their discretion, report that discovery to an appropriate person).

Is a ‘whistleblowing’ disclosure able to be made under the Fire and Emergency Dispute Resolution Scheme?

The Fire and Emergency Scheme cannot deal with protected disclosures of serious wrongdoing. Guidance on the process can be found in Fire and Emergency’s protected disclosure policy which is available on Fire and Emergency’s intranet. This policy sets out the expected behaviours, processes and rules that apply when Fire and Emergency personnel (including employees, volunteers and contractors) wish to disclose serious wrongdoing within or by Fire and Emergency, under the protection of the Protected Disclosures Act 2000.

Information and guidance about making a protected disclosure are available from the Ombudsman. or 0800 802 602.

About the Fire and Emergency dispute resolution Scheme

Learn more about the Scheme


Cultural Support Guidelines

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