Fire and Emergency NZ Update on ARENA Aircraft Tracking System and Operational Service Requirements

Explore the discussion we had with Richard 'Mac' McNamara, the National Manager of Operations and Aviation Lead for Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ).

This blog is a summary of a section within our ebook we recently published. You can get your own free copy here today.

  1. FENZ Update
  2. FENZ Operational Service Specification Requirements
  3. ARENA Aircraft Database Tracking System

Recently we had a discussion with Mac McNamara, the National Manager of Operations and Aviation Lead for Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ). Mac gave us some extremely valuable insights on topics like the ARENA system, FENZ operations requirements for aviation, and what the future of aerial firefighting will look like in New Zealand. 


To read the full breakdown, download the free ebook here. 

FENZ Update

FENZ spent 12 months bringing in the operational service specifications for the use of aircraft on any foreign entity job, and also introduced a national airdesk response system for dispatches (the ARENA system). 

Since the national airdesk ARENA system has been in place, well over 130 dispatches of aircraft have occurred, and looking forward, FENZ will be dispatching assets through this system.

The ARENA airdesk system and ARENA database that underpins it is linked to what's known as the ICAD fire system, which is the FENZ response system for any fire or emergency.

“The airdesk is integrated with the ICAD fire system, and we believe that it's working very well. It's been quite a feat to get that up and running in such a short space of time, given that the system has taken about 10 years to evolve in Australia. So we've learned from their experience and their mistakes and we believe we've got that system up and running effectively.” Says Mac.


FENZ Operational Service Specification Requirements

The FENZ operational service specifications have been in place now for nearly two years. This was put together after extensive background research and seeking comments from internal reference groups, external reference groups, and the wider general aviation industry. 

“FENZ spends roughly $10 million a year on General Aviation Services. While Department of Conservation (DoC) spends around $25 million a year. If you put those together and do some very rough sums, you come up with around 11,000 flight hours a year. That's a lot of flying - which is why we need to have service standards in place to go with that amount of expenditure.”

Over the last 12 months a number of other government agencies are wanting to come on board with the service specifications, which is good as it means we can be more consistent for the use of aircraft. And for the operator, it means you're only dealing with one set of service standards, and one verification process or audit process, as opposed to a myriad. 

“As far as tracking goes, TracPlus has the contract to integrate tracking from various providers into the ARENA database. That's how it works in Australia, and NZ has taken on board exactly the same model. And it works very well for us.” Mac states.



ARENA Aircraft Database Tracking System

The ARENA system has been in place now in Australia for 10 years. All of the states and territories in Australia are using it and now New Zealand is too.

“It's a tried and proven system. If it was gonna fall over, it would have fallen over 18 months ago when we were hit with those massive bushfires on the eastern seaboard of Australia and New South Wales in particular, and into southern Queensland. But it didn't fall over. It performed really well.” - Mac

Mac was on one of the feedback groups looking at its performance. He says that normally New South Wales will do around 2000 aircraft dispatches a year on fires. But that year, they did well in excess of 7000, and the system continued to work well - bringing confidence to the idea of bringing ARENA to NZ. 

“We were confident that it would work well, not only for us, but also importantly for the aircraft providers who have their own login and can manipulate and manage their own data, and can see their own tracking.”

The ARENA system has also been through multiple data security tests in every state of Australia, and New Zealand hired KPMG to ensure that the system is as secure as it can be. It has all the required barriers in place so that the system cant be hacked and it's also backed up on two or three different servers in Melbourne and Sydney.


For more information on how TracPlus supports wildfire response operations, enable tracking and communication needs, and help manage and mitigate risk, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Similar posts

Get notified on new TracPlus insights

Be the first to know about industry insights, product updates and more.