10 Nov 2015

Fire Service stands down controversial officer

7:38 pm on 10 November 2015

A controversial fire officer has been stood down, the Fire Service says.

Fire fighter in training.

Firefighters in training (file) Photo: SUPPLIED / NZ Fire Service

Mike McEnaney - a paid senior fire risk management officer in Auckland and a station officer for the volunteer brigade in Northland town Mangawhai - has been suspended from all duties pending an investigation into a complaint about his behaviour in Auckland.

Nearly 1000 Mangawhai people, almost half the town's population, had signed a petition calling for Mr McEnaney's removal.

He was recently demoted as senior station officer at Mangawhai for using threatening language to a volunteer and the group of locals said he was also the reason 15 experienced firefighters had quit in three years.

Northland MP Winston Peters said that, by standing him down, the Fire Service had shown it was listening to the community.

"The people who've petitioned will now be satisfied their concerns have been taken seriously," he said.

"I think it is also evidence of a significant shift in the Fire Service's desire to be better aligned and closely in communication with the communities they serve, and in particular the volunteering sector."

The Fire Service confirmed Mr McEnaney had been stood down from his roles while the investigation got under way but said it had nothing to do with the dispute in Mangawhai.

Meeting held in Mangawhai

Fire Service bosses met the volunteers who had quit at a meeting in the town last night, and told them Mr McEnaney had been suspended.

They also discussed a staged comeback of former brigade members.

Michelle Jago, a member of the team that had led the effort to have Mr McEnaney removed, said members were pleased he had been suspended.

She said the former volunteers had been told not to speak to the media - but it was no secret that the Fire Service wanted them back.

"That means, hopefully, we will soon have a way forward to have a happy, healthy and fully servicing brigade again here in our community of Mangawhai."

Mr McEnaney is not commenting on the investigation or the allegations made against him.