Brigade under scrutiny on funds
The Department of Internal Affairs is still digging to find if the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade claimed money it was not entitled to, despite the New Zealand Fire Service clearing the organisation in a separate inquiry.
Questions were raised earlier this year by a former member about the brigade's fundraising practices which led to the New Zealand Fire Service conducting a two-day internal audit in September.
New Zealand Fire Service region manager Ian Pickard said at the time the internal audit found no evidence to support the allegations and the brigade had been cleared of all wrongdoing. At the time the DIA was conducting its own investigation and told the Manawatu Standard yesterday it was ongoing.
Former brigade member Graeme Speirs alleges the brigade raised more money than it needed for its crash rescue team to travel to the World Rescue Challenge championships in London in October and that it had applied and received grants it was not entitled to.
The brigade went to the local community, trusts and the Lottery Minister's discretionary fund for money.
The minister's discretionary fund is overseen by the DIA and is made available to volunteer firefighting services that are not able to access funding from either the National Rural Fire Authority, or the New Zealand Fire Service.
The Manawatu Standard has obtained documents which show at the time the $8730 Lotteries grant was given, the brigade had received money from the NZ Fire Service, Manawatu District Council, the United Fire Brigade Association and Trust House. At the end of March this year the brigade's financial statement on the Charities Commission website showed it as having cash and bank balances of $48,636.
From the end of March 2012 the brigade received another $23,482 from various sources, including the Minister's discretionary fund.
Chief fire officer Peter Guard said in July this year the brigade had raised $40,000 and in October the brigade was reported to have raised $30,000 for the trip.
Mr Speirs, a 28-year brigade veteran, said at the time he made the allegations it was unfortunate the entire brigade had been under suspicion when the issue lay with a few members.