Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Firefighter - Fire Brigades Union


  • pg 1
									The magazine of the Fire Brigades Union >   January/February 2012

60 and still
Why these former firefighters say
government plans don’t make sense See p10

                                               Matt Wrack
                                               There is a
                                               tough year
I would like to wish all FBU                    with the approach of setting                     also imposed deep and savage          government’s autumn
members and supporters a                        a cost ceiling but nevertheless                  cuts in central funding of the        statement announced a 1%
happy new year – I hope you                     attempted to influence the                       fire and rescue service. These        pay rise ceiling for the public
had a decent holiday and at                     process once it was under way.                   budget cuts, which started in         sector for the next two years.
least some time with family                         The government issued a                      April, have already seen nearly       This comes after a two-year pay
and friends.                                    cost ceiling for the proposed                    1,000 firefighter posts cut in        freeze imposed in 2010. The
    The year ahead is likely to                 firefighter scheme. It was set at                the space of a year.                  TUC estimates this will cost
be a tough one for firefighters.                27% (employer 13.8%; employee                        FBU members in many               firefighters and other public
We face continued attacks                       13.2%) with a proposed accrual                   brigades are now campaigning          sector workers over 16% over
on our pensions, our jobs                       rate of 57ths. This accrual rate                 against the next round of             four years – a ruinous assault
   and our pay. The economic                    is higher than in other public                   cuts. Another 500 posts are           on our living standards.
      outlook is extremely grim                 sector schemes and we will                       threatened – with chief officers          They have also threatened to
        and that will affect the                examine precisely what it means                  predicting another 2,000              introduce localised pay, which
         communities we serve                   in discussion with government                    threatened after that.                would undercut the current
         and the people we                      officials. However, the currently                    The fire and rescue service       national arrangement the FBU
         are there to help. The                 proposed “reference scheme”                      already faced cuts under the          has fought for throughout its
        Cameron government is                   does not in any way address the                  previous government. So these         history. Let no one be under
     determined to continue its                                                                                                        any illusion – they want to
    agenda of making working                                                                                                           drive our pay down to levels
people pay for the economic                                                                                                            not seen in the fire service for
crisis. That means its onslaught
against public services, against
                                                                                                                   A big FBU               Another threat comes from
pension rights and against our
                                                                                                                   contingent joined   efforts to privatise parts of
living standards will continue.
                                                                                                                   the demonstration   the fire and rescue service.
What we have to do is stand
                                                                                                                   in Nottingham on    These threats come in many
together in our union to resist
                                                                                                                   30 November         guises – the outright use of
these attacks.
                                                                                                                                       private firms like AssetCo, the
                                                concerns of the FBU on contri-                   new cuts will only add to a
Pensions                                        butions rates, retirement age or                 hugely underfunded service.           selling off of control rooms
Members will know that FBU                      other key matters. We continue                   The resilience of the service         and the establishment of
head office officials spent a                   to challenge the government                      is at stake if these cuts go          mutuals and other types of
great deal of time last year                    on a range of issues and we                      through. The union will be            public-private arrangements.
building our campaign to                        have raised these concerns with                  asking our officials to step up       Behind all this stand some big
defend firefighters’ pensions                   ministers in all parts of the UK.                campaigning around jobs in the        private providers, who believe
in the face of the government’s                     To summarise the current                     coming months.                        they can make a profit out of
desire to make us pay more,                     position: at time of writing                         I am sure that we will see        firefighting.
work longer and get less.                       there is currently no “offer” on                 major campaigns in every                  There’s no getting away
    In December the                             pensions and discussions will                    UK fire service against any           from the attacks we face. But
government finally set the cost                 continue on the government’s                     proposed cuts in the service          we face them with a strong and
ceilings for the firefighters’                  proposals and our challenges                     or in the number of jobs.             united union.
pension scheme from 2015.                       to them. The union’s executive                   Our task nationally will be to            Members of the Fire
The FBU had managed to                          council has agreed to meet early                 build the momentum of that            Brigades Union are renowned
delay the setting of the cost                   in the new year to hear reports                  campaigning across the UK.            for our initiative and strength.
ceiling, so consideration                       from these discussions.                                                                    We will have to use
could be given to various                                                                        Threats ahead                         everything at our disposal
occupationally specific issues,                 Jobs                                             We face two other threats             to defend ourselves and the
particularly around retirement                  Alongside the attack on our                      ahead that the union is               communities we serve in the
age. We have never agreed                       pensions, the government has                     preparing to combat. The              year ahead.

Published by the Fire Brigades Union, Bradley House, 68 Coombe Road, Kingston upon Thames KT2 7AE
Design: • Print: Southernprint Ltd, 17–21 Factory Road, Poole, BH16 5SN

2 FireFighter January/February 2012
                 THIS MONTH

                         Contents                                                                                                               4
                         New year –
                                                                                                              keep the
                                                                                                          pressure on

                         new threats
                                                                                                          in pensions
                                                                                                            court case

                         for fire service
                                                                                                             PICTURE: ROD LEON


                                                                                                                8                Brother
                                                                                                                                 Steve Wells
                                                                                                                                 Brother Steve Wells, a member in East
                                                                                                                                 Sussex, died as a result of cancer. A
                                                                                                                                 memorial fund has been established by
                                                                                                                                 members in East Sussex and we have
                                                                                                                                 issued the following statement about Steve
                                                                                                                                 and about the fund:

                                                                                                                                 Facing cancer is the toughest fight most
                                                                                                                                 patients will ever have to face. Sadly
                                                                                                                                 Steve Wells from Lewes fire station, East
                                                                                                                                 Sussex, lost his brave fight against cancer
                                                                                                                                 on Thursday 6 October in sudden and
                                                                                                                                 extremely poignant circumstances as he
                                                                                                                                 died the day before he was due to marry his
                         Aftermath of the M5 crash and fire – see Aerial ladder platform, page 8                                 partner Di.
                                                                                                                                    Steve had worked for East Sussex fire
                         News                             Features                        Regulars                               and rescue service for 24 years. With his
                                                          10 Your body tells you …        5 Sounding off                         previous service in the Royal Navy, he had
                         4 Pensions uprating
                                                          Retired firefighters            Cumbria control plans                  achieved 28 years’ pensionable service. As
                         Unions seek urgent appeal in
                                                          explain why 55 is the right     are a bolt from the blue               he was a member of the old Firefighters’
                         bid to overturn CPI switch
                                                          retirement age for the job      8 Aerial ladder                        Pension Scheme and died the day before
                         5 Frontline jobs                                                   platform                             his wedding, tragically no pension benefits
                                                          12 Pensions update
                         Public backs fight to save
                                                          Government proposals do         M5 crash and fire: It was              will be paid to his partner or his children.
                         135 posts                                                        only minutes, but it felt                 Steve was an active member of the FBU,
                                                          not address our key concerns
                         FBU warns on London’s                                            like the longest night ever            serving as a station rep for most of his
                         rush to privatise training       14 Flood law needed …
                                                                                          18 Health                              career. The entire service is shocked and
                                                          … in England and Wales – it’s
                         6 FiReControl Mark II            already there in Scotland       Insurance companies                    saddened by what happened to Steve.
                         Union demands transparency       and Northern Ireland            lose latest round in their                We ask for FBU members nationally to
                         as control jobs are threatened                                   drive to deprive asbestos              contribute to the Lewes Fire Station Steve
                                                          16 The cuts next time           victims of compensation                Wells Memorial Fund which will be the
                         7 News focus                     New budget reductions           19 Legal Beagle                        only method remaining to provide financial
                         FBU women lobby MPs              threaten resilience             What are my rights to                  support for his partner Di.
                                                                                          leave as a father?
                                                                                                                                 Account name: Lewes Fire Station Steve
                                                                                          20 Day off
                                                                                                                                 Wells Memorial Fund
                                                                                          An unforgettable road
                                                                                          trip to honour firefighters            Account number: 40726428
                                                                                          who died in 9/11 attacks
                                                                                                                                 Account sort code: 60-13-04
                                                                                          22 Puzzles
                                                                                          Win the new Kindle                     Bank name: Nat West
                         It’s time for                                                    23 Station Cat                            Please support the appeal.
                          a flood law                                                     The news they don’t
                          in England                                                      want you to hear                       Matt Dale
                           and Wales                                                      24 25-year badges                      East Sussex brigade secretary

                                                                                                                                 January/February 2012 FireFighter 3
News                                                                                     January/February 2012

                                                                                                                                       ROD LEON
FBU members outside the High Court in London in October while the case was being heard

Urgent appeal sought on
pensions uprate ruling                        disappointing, the unions are pleased that    without any consultation or negotiation.
                                              our main argument, that the chancellor        Chancellor George Osborne claimed CPI
The Fire Brigades Union and five other        was motivated by deficit reduction when he    was the more appropriate measure.
unions will challenge a High Court ruling     made the switch, was accepted.                   But the unions have always said the
that the government was entitled to switch       “It is encouraging that one judge agreed   switch was a deficit reduction measure and,
the measure of inflation used to increase     that this was illegal and we are appealing    therefore, unlawful under social security
pensions. They will seek an “expedited”       against the majority decision as a matter     legislation that does not allow national
    appeal against a decision that will cut   of urgency.                                   economic considerations to be used when
      the value of pensions for millions         “At a time when public sector workers      deciding which is the best practicable
        of retired private and public         are being forced to bear the burden of the    estimate of the increase in prices.
        sector workers.                       financial crisis, the unions will not allow      While all three High Court judges agreed
            The move came after two of        this unfair and, in our view, unlawful        with the unions that deficit reduction was
       three High Court judges ruled in       breach of the contracts of millions of        the motivation for the switch, two of them
     December that the government was         workers to rest.                              said the secretary of state for work and
    within its rights to use the consumer        “This case applies to private sector       pensions was within his rights to take into
price index (CPI) instead of the tradition-   pensioners who are also losing out because    account public finances.
ally higher retail price index (RPI).         of a switch in the way price rises are           October’s inflation figures put CPI at 5%
    One of the judges found that it was       measured and applied to their pensions.”      and RPI at 5.4%, meaning that the loss to
unlawful and should be quashed.                  The judicial review was initiated by       existing public sector pensions is around
    FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said:    six unions. It challenged the switch to       15%. Ministers have refused to negotiate
“While the High Court’s split ruling is       CPI – announced in the June 2010 budget       on the issue.

4 FireFighter January/February 2012
                                                                                                         Plans to move
                                                                                                       county’s control
                                                                                                     twice in two years
Public backs fight for
135 frontline jobs                                                                                                        SOUNDING OFF
                                                                                                                          Bolt from the blue
West Yorkshire
                                                                           seriously stretched, even with our current
                                                                           resources. These cuts risk tipping us over
                                                                                                                          heralds FiReControl II
Firefighters in West Yorkshire have                                        the edge and that will have a very serious     Cumbria control branch secretary
received strong public support for their                                   impact on the public.”
campaign to defend their jobs and the                                         The union has received overwhelming
                                                                                                                          Christine Wilson and branch
service after plans to axe 135 frontline                                   public support at public meetings              chair Morven Anson say radical
firefighters were announced.                                               organised to oppose these cuts. Hundreds       change is taking place without
    The FBU warned of increased risk                                       of people attended public meetings in          proper public debate
to lives and homes, businesses and                                         December, with other events planned for
workplaces as a result of the plans.                                       the new year.                                  Cumbria county council plans to shut its
    Ten stations would be closed and                                                                                      control room in June with the loss of 12
                                                  YORKSHIRE EVENING POST

replaced with five new builds and seven                                                                                   posts and move the work to Cheshire’s fire
frontline fire appliances removed by 2017.                                                                                control until 2014 when it would move on
This would result in around 135 fewer                                                                                     to the north west regional control centre.
frontline firefighters being available to                                                                                    Staff were given only a week’s notice
respond to 999 emergencies.                                                                                               before the plan was put to the council’s
    Yorkshire FBU regional secretary Pete                                                                                 cabinet. It was a bolt from the blue. The
Smith said: “These cuts are the worst we                                                                                  staff had agreed in December 2010 to the
have ever seen and come on the back of                                                                                    loss of three posts – taking staffing down
serious cuts to the service in recent years.                                                                              to 12 – to keep Cumbria control safe after
Make no mistake, they are a threat to the                                                                                 the collapse of the FiReControl project.
safety of the public and firefighters – this is                                                                              The council failed to bid for £1.8m
a bonfire of the fire service.                                             West Yorkshire FBU officials David             of government funding to upgrade its
    “There are times when we have been                                     Williams (l) and Mark Wilson                   existing control. And while it was planning
                                                                                                                          to move the control to Cheshire it was
                                                                                                                          also making plans to merge the rest of the

Union warns on rush                                                                                                       Cumbria fire service with Northumberland
                                                                                                                          – plans that were recently dropped.
                                                                                                                             There was no consultation before the

to privatise training                                                                                                     decision and no debate by the full fire
                                                                                                                          authority. Public and press were excluded
                                                                                                                          when key financial information was
                                    FBU regional official                                 such as the fire service. It    discussed, but it is important to scrutinise
                                 Ben Sprung said: “We have                                is central to the safety of     the plans, technology and financial details.
The FBU has called on            major concerns about                                     firefighters and we urge the       The FiReControl project collapsed at a
London’s mayor Boris             safety and the long-term                                 mayor to step in and delay      cost of at least £500m, the planning was
Johnson to delay the             financial risks involved                                 making this decision.”          a disaster and the technology would not
proposed privatisation           with privatising training.                                   The union said the          work. We have the makings of FiReControl
of firefighter training,         In our view the evaluation                               in-house bid only narrowly      disaster Mark II in the north west.
after the London fire            process was tilted against                               missed winning the                 Cumbria councillors have signed
and emergency planning           the in-house bid.                                        contract having been            up to pay for the regional fire control
authority recommended               “The decision-making                                  blocked from including          centre without the technology being in
a sell-off to the Babcock        took two months and they                                 £8m of potential savings        place, one of the central fault lines of the
International Group,             plan to have privatised                                  identified before the           FiReControl project.
which says it is the UK’s        training in place by April                               bidding started.                   Much is being made of using GPS to
largest work-based learning      2012. There is a rush to                                     The FBU has serious         direct fire appliances, but GPS is useless
provider.                        judgment followed by a                                   concerns about the risks        when roads are blocked. Road bridges can be
    The union accused the        dash to implement and the                                associated with the             swept away – as happened across Cumbria
fire authority of rushing        timeframe is too tight.                                  privatisation, including        the last time there was major flooding – and,
through a decision on the           “Training is critical to                              safety, working conditions      yes, local control crews had to use their local
25-year training contract        those who work in very                                   and long-term financial         knowledge to keep the public safe.
worth £18m a year.               hostile environments                                     implications.                   FBU demands transparency – page 6

                                                                                                                          January/February 2012 FireFighter 5

                                                                                                                                  IN BRIEF

                                                                                                                                  Autumn statement misery
                                                                                                                                        The government’s autumn statement
                                                                                                                                        painted a bleak picture for public
                                                                                                                                  sector workers. The chancellor announced
                                                                                                                                  that pay increases in the public sector will
                                                                                                                                  be capped at an average 1% for the two
                                                                                                                                  years following the current two-year pay
                                                                                                                                  freeze. The TUC calculated that this leaves
                                                                                                                                  public sector workers facing an average
                                                                                                                                  16.5% cut in living standards by 2014-15.
                                                                                                                                     George Osborne announced a review of
                                                                                                                                  “how public sector pay can be made more
                                                                                                                                  responsive to local labour markets”, with
                                                                                 FBU members joined two million other
                                                                                                                                  a view to fragmenting national collective
                                                                                 public sector workers in the historic day of
                                                                                                                                  bargaining arrangements.
                                                                                 action on pensions on 30 November. Left:
                                                                                                                                     There was also grim news on jobs. The
                                                                                 on the demonstration in Cardiff. Above:
                                                                                                                                  Office for Budget Responsibility estimated
                                                                                 Ian Murray, FBU EC region 4, speaking at a
                                                                                                                                  710,000 public sector job losses between
                                                                                 protest rally in Hull
                                                                                                                                  2011 and 2017. Last March it predicted
                                                                                                                                  400,000 job losses.

                               FBU demands transparency                                                                           FBU wants hybrids out of service

                               on fire control room changes                                                                             South Yorkshire fire crews have asked
                                                                                                                                        for controversial new vehicles to be
                                                                                                                                  taken out of service until a full investigation
                                                                                                    authority controlled          into serious safety failures has been
                               Buckinghamshire                      Cumbria
                                                                                                    company. But he spoke         completed. There are a host of safety
                               The Fire Brigades Union is           The Fire Brigades Union         highly of the technology      concerns. The CARPs (combined aerial rescue
                               demanding a full public consul-      is demanding to know            that the company claims       pumps) have been dogged by problems since
                               tation over fire authority plans     why Cumbria county              it will provide, along with   they came into use in the UK.
                               to axe Buckinghamshire’s             councillor Gary Strong          claimed financial benefits.      The Fire Brigades Union issued a
                               control centre.                      did not reveal he was a             FBU regional secretary    Safety Critical Notice on 3 November to
                                   In September the fire            director of North West          Kevin Brown said:             South Yorkshire fire service and crews are
                               authority decided, behind            Fire Control Ltd at a           “Councillor Strong tabled     refusing to use the rescue platform on the
                               closed doors, to outsource           council cabinet meeting         the report and spoke at       hybrid vehicle. There have been continuous
                               the Aylesbury control room           that decided to move            the cabinet in glowing        problems with the vehicles since their
                               to Cambridgeshire, over 50           fire control from the           terms about the alleged       introduction in South Yorkshire.
                               miles away. Other options were       authority’s control room        benefits of moving to            The FBU believes the vehicles are a
                               dismissed without the evidence       in Cockermouth to his           North West Fire Control.      threat to the safety of crews and public.
                               being made public or any             company’s regional fire             “The claims of the        Station Cat – page 23
                               consultation.                        control centre.                 regional control company
                                   Regional FBU control official        There was no                were central to the           RDS compensation
                               Andy Cooper said: “These             suggestion that Strong          approval by the cabinet              The Fire Brigades Union is concerned
                               cuts will see the firefighters       will get any personal           and I am concerned that              over misleading claims about
                               and managers working in              benefit from his position       he did not declare an         compensation payments to retained fire-
                               the Aylesbury command and            as a director – it is a local   interest at that meeting.”    fighters. FBU executive council member
                               control room given the choice                                                                      Tam Mitchell said: “The claims being made
                               of either moving their families                                                                    about these compensation payments are
                               to the east of England, where                                                                      wrong and will mislead retained firefighters
                               they will most likely face                                                                         and the public. This is the result of a long-
                               redundancy, or object to the                                                                       running legal battle won by the FBU at the
                               transfer and face the sack.”                                                                       House of Lords and then at a later tribunal.
                                   FBU control representa-                                                                            “The range of compensation payments
                               tive Makyla Greaves said: “The                                                                     starts at £150 and the maximum possible
                               closure of the local emergency                                                                     amounts are £750 for a firefighter, £778
                               fire control room affects the                                                                      for a crew manager and £806 for a watch
                               safety of firefighters and                                                                         manager, if you are eligible under the
                               everyone who lives, works,                                                                         agreement. The compensation payment
                               travels through, or visits                                                                         will be made without deduction of tax or
                               Buckinghamshire.                                                                                   national insurance contributions and is
                                   “The fire authority decision                                                                   not pensionable. Each individual payment
                               should be in the public domain.      North West Fire Control Ltd says Cumbria, Cheshire,           is being calculated on a case by case basis.
                               There is no reason for secrecy       Greater Manchester and Lancashire fire authorities            Fire authorities are setting aside money
                               when we are talking about            have agreed to collaborate in a single North West centre      to pay compensation for their previous
                               people’s lives being put at risk.”   at Lingley Mere in Warrington (above)                         unlawful actions.”

                               6 FireFighter January/February 2012
                                                                                                                Fb CUS
                                                                                                                Lo by attract

On message: (l to r) Lucy May, Val Hampshire and Clare Hudson

FBU women lobby MPs
Denise Christie, FBU                          of the fire service and that figure is likely   read the information, sign an early day
                                              to get worse if these changes are pushed        motion (EDM 2049) and write to Treasury
executive council                             through without amendment.                      chief secretary Danny Alexander raising
member for women,                                 With this in mind and as part of the        concerns and ask a question in parliament.
                                              pensions campaign, the FBU’s national               Over 20 MPs attended the lobby. This
reports on important                          women’s committee and head office               included MPs without constituents in
campaigning on pensions                       organised a women members’ lobby of             attendance who had heard from other MPs
                                              Westminster MPs.                                about the lobby and turned up to find out
Women are not only being ignored by this          Wednesday 9 November saw women              what the issues were.
government – they are being attacked.         firefighters lobby their MPs over the               The lobby attracted media attention and
Of the billions of pounds that are being      government’s controversial pension              West Midlands women’s rep Leanne Byrne
saved, the majority is coming directly        reforms. Briefing notes were sent out           was interviewed for BBC Radio 4. Union
from women. It is easy to see why there       before the lobby and campaign packs were        News website also ran an article on the
are more millionaires in this government      distributed on the day with information for     lobby with some Twitter feminist organisa-
than mothers!                                 the MPs to read and act on.                     tions blogging about it.
   It is mostly women who work in and             Women members contacted their                   A video blog was filmed for FBUTube
rely on public services. The government’s     MPs and asked to meet them to discuss           and the FBU website. The day was very
attacks on public servants, including fire-   the issues they had with the proposed           successful, not only for the number of
fighters, are clear to see with the current   pension reforms. Each MP was asked to           MPs lobbied, but also for women members
job losses, pay cuts and detrimental                                                          who gained some experience in communi-
pension reforms. Making women bear the                                                        cating with their MPs and the importance
brunt of deficit-cutting measures makes       Members gained                                  of lobbying.
a mockery of the government’s claimed
commitment to fairness.
                                              experience in                                       Since the lobby we have had MPs
                                                                                              writing letters to Danny Alexander raising
   The pension changes will make it even      communicating                                   our concerns as well as signing EDM 2049.
more difficult to recruit and retain women
in a fire service that desperately needs
                                              with MPs and                                    Further commitments to raise a question
                                                                                              on our behalf in parliament have also
them. Women still make up less than 4%        lobbying                                        been received.

                                                                                              January/February 2012 FireFighter 7
8 FireFighter January/February 2012
M5 crash – ‘It felt like the longest
night ever, but it was only minutes’
Called in as “a van on fire” on the M5 near      away, it was often to find even more cars         trapped and their rescuers.
junction 25, it turned out to be one of the      with more people trapped underneath.                One of those on the scene said: “If we’d
worst scenes of carnage ever witnessed              Faced with that level of carnage and           taken a defensive stance we’d have lost more
on UK roads. There had been immediate            immediate life risk, the crews used a combi-      people, we had to totally commit to what
fatalities but others were trapped in vehicles   tool and hooligan bars to free those trapped      was a very dangerous situation or there
with fire bearing down.                          as fire was bearing down.                         would have been more fatalities.
  Two pumps, with 12 wholetime and                  The crews rapidly reverted to using car          “There was not the luxury of time we have
retained firefighters, made it to the scene in   jacks taken from the boots of crashed cars to     at most RTCs as fire was rapidly bearing
the initial stages. Other crews racing to the    lift vehicles and free those trapped, at least    down, this was split-second risk assessment
scene were held up in miles of gridlocked        one lorry exploding near crews carrying           using the personnel and equipment we
traffic that had built up rapidly.               out rescues.                                      had available.
  Large refrigerated lorries and cars were          Crews had two tanks of water to fight the        “Everyone went well beyond what was
well alight. Some survivors were trapped         fires as they were rescuing those trapped.        required. For those who were first at the
face down in spilled fuel while others were      The dangers were so immediate that split-         scene it felt like the longest night ever – we
trapped in cars and the cabs of lorries.         second decisions were made in what was            were physically and emotionally drained –
  As they carried out rescues and pulled cars    a hugely dangerous situation for those            but it was only minutes.”

                                                                                                                                  TIM OCKENDEN/
                                                                                                                                       PA PHOTOS

                                                                                                  January/February 2012 FireFighter 9

“You can’t do as much as you                                                                      Ivor Ridgill, Ned
                                                                                                  Robinson and
 get older, your body tells                                                                       Ralph Shields

 you when you’ve had enough,
 some will find they can’t do it”

               here are good common-         Three retired firefighters from South           but I want to speak out because making
               sense reasons why frontline   Yorkshire explain why this would be a           firefighters work longer is just not right.”
               firefighters should be        bad deal not just for those forced to work         He is candid about the effects of
               retired by the age of 55.     on but for the public that firefighters         ageing. Reaction times can start to
               People do not expect the      spend their working lives protecting.           slow from 45. He speaks from personal
               firefighters called out to    Their words reinforce the union’s position      experience.
               save them from a blazing      that the retirement age of 60 in the New           “Your body tells you when you’ve had
house to be pushing 60.                      Firefighters’ Pensions Scheme introduced in     enough,” says Ivor, who continues to
   And it’s not ageist to suggest that       2006 is five years too late.                    serve his local community in retirement
the public is entitled to expect younger                                                     as a primary school governor. Like many
crews at the peak of physical fitness.       Struggling                                      firefighters, he was a keen sportsman in
Or that firefighters deserve dignity in      Ivor Ridgill, Ralph Shields and Ned             earlier life.
retirement.                                  Robinson donned fire kit and posed for a           He represented the fire and rescue
  But the government seems intent on         photograph outside their old fire station       service at rugby union at national level
going ahead with plans to ratchet up         in to make the point that firefighters          – playing for England – as well as being
the retirement age to 60 and beyond          should be allowed to retire with dignity.       picked for county sides West then South
for those in the Firefighters’ Pension       Ministers should listen to these former         Yorkshire.
Scheme. Frontline firefighters could find    frontline firefighters who have a wealth           He hung up his rugby boots at 43.
themselves having to work an extra five      of experience behind them.                      Crawling was becoming problematic,
years from 2015.                               Ivor Ridgill, a former South Yorkshire        as his knees were giving him problems.
  The recommendation comes from              station manager, retired at 51, after           He feels it would have been hard to
Lord Hutton’s report on public sector        30 years’ service. He doesn’t mince his         sustain more arduous tasks such as hose-
pensions, in a cost-cutting drive that       words: “I was struggling many times by          running and ladder work if he had not
seems to fly in the face of not just         the end, to be honest. It was frustrating.      retired when he did.
common sense but research and best           You want to put your heart and soul into           “You can’t do so much as you get
practice in occupational health at home      the job. But, towards the end I could only      older,” he says, “and if people have to
and abroad.                                  give it 85 or 75 per cent. I just didn’t        work until they are 60 there’ll be those
  Experts warn it would not even save        have the physical agility I used to.”           who find they can’t do it at all.”
money. The expected rise in early retire-      Firefighters deserve dignity in                  There are worrying implications for
ments on medical grounds – as a result       retirement, and the public deserves to be       the public and firefighting colleagues,
of the later retirement age – could well     served by fit, active and agile firefighters,   he warns. “If you are going to have to
wipe out cost savings on pensions.           Ivor, now 63, argues. “I’m sorted myself,       work an extra five years as an operational

10 FireFighter January/February 2012
firefighter, you might not be putting just    firefighters to leave. I loved the job,       would want to be rescued by a bunch of
yourself at risk, but other people too.”      but left at 54. My lungs weren’t up to        59-year-olds if they had a choice.”
                                              it. I would never finish as well as when          Ned, now 59, drove the fire engine
‘It just got worse’                           I started.”                                   and fought fires during his time in South
Former colleague Ralph Shields “loved                                                       Yorkshire FRS. In his last three years as
every minute” of his job as a South           Timing was perfect                            a firefighter, he had to have time off sick.
Yorkshire firefighter. But he had to retire   Ned Robinson left the job bang on 55. “I      He says he feels sorry for firefighters
aged 54. Longstanding lung problems           certainly knew I’d had enough by then,”       who may well find themselves having to
were affecting him.                           he says. “If I’d stayed on any longer, I’d    work an extra five years before they can
   Ralph was finding it increasingly hard     have been really struggling. I was starting   retire. “It can be a very demanding job
to fight fires in heavy smoke, heat and       to feel my age in a really big way. The       both physically and mentally. I consider
water spray – the kind of conditions          timing was perfect for me. I don’t know       myself lucky being able to retire when I
every firefighter has to be ready to face.    what would have happened if I’d had to        did,” Ned says.
“It just got worse,” says Ralph, now          work until I was 60.                              “For someone feeling the strain who’d
65 and just starting to draw his state          “I’m sure we’d manage if we had to. But     banked on having retirement coming
pension. “I had to leave a year early.        the chances of us falling over, collapsing    up and being told they’ll have to put in
There is no way I could have carried on.      or having a seizure become much higher        another five years it would be some kind
   “Muscles get weaker as you get older       the older you get. There’s the adrenalin      of hell.”
– things you took for granted before get      rush when you are called out to a job, you
harder. It can’t be a good idea to force      have to work very intensively in short        Informed debate
firefighters to stay on until they’re 60      bursts in high temperatures. It can put       Before the government presses ahead
or beyond, 55 should be the maximum           tremendous strain on the body, the older      with this ill-thought-out plan, there
– it’s probably the best time for most        you get. And I don’t expect the public        should be a properly informed debate.
                                                                                              By sharing their experiences, Ivor,
                                                                                            Ralph and Ned have made an important

To be approaching retirement                                                                  Firefighters and the public should
                                                                                            make sure that firefighters are not forced

and to be told to do another five                                                           to stay on when they are no longer
                                                                                            physically up to the job. And that they

years would be some kind of hell                                                            retire with a decent pension. After all,
                                                                                            they’ve earned it.

                                                                                            January/February 2012 FireFighter 11

 Government proposals on
pensions do not address our
Pension discussions with ministers
are still ongoing. Firefighter
explains the recent developments

           he Fire Brigades Union’s campaign to         documentation includes a government “preferred
           defend firefighters’ pensions reached an     scheme design”. FBU officials and our actuaries
           important new stage at the end of last       have been examining the proposals very carefully,
           year and the union expects more devel-       including the possibilities of an earlier retirement
           opments early this month.                    age for firefighters.
              The main developments are:                   FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The
● A new firefighters’ pension scheme, with working      government has not addressed the key concerns
  longer and career-average calculated benefits         of the union. We produced detailed and robust
  from 2015                                             arguments and they have not been adequately
● Consultation on proposed increased contribu-          addressed. We have written to the minister
  tions from April 2012                                 outlining our concerns at the limited time available
● Changes to the local government pension scheme        to conclude negotiations. On many of these issues
  for control members                                   the government needs to look again at the evidence
● A court decision on uprating pension benefits for     we submitted which sets out major threats to the
  inflation.                                            viability of the scheme. We are pursuing the issues
                                                        of concern as a matter of urgency and will keep
New firefighter scheme                                  members informed.”
The main developments have been around
Westminster ministers’ plans for a new firefighters’    Discussions
pension scheme to run from 2015. The government         The government has said that the cost ceiling is
wants firefighters to pay higher contributions, work    “indicative”. It has stated that the announcement
longer and still receive lower pensions at the end of   of the cost ceiling and related documentation is the
career. The FBU believes these proposals are unfair     start of the latest stage of discussions and should not
and unsustainable.                                      be seen as a final position. The union will be issuing
   The government has now issued a cost ceiling         its response, including our own preferred “scheme
for the proposed firefighter scheme. This fixes the     design”, based on the union’s policies on pensions.
proportion of pensionable pay it will contribute to         The FBU originally called for a delay in setting
our pensions over the long term. This has been set      the cost ceiling for the firefighter scheme, so that
at 27% (with the government, as employer, paying        consideration could be given to various occupation-
13.8% and the employee paying 13.2%), with a            ally specific issues, particularly around retirement
proposed accrual rate of 57ths. The accompanying        age. The firefighters’ cost ceiling was set on

12 FireFighter January/February 2012
                          7 December, while other schemes had cost ceilings
                          set in October (and revised again on 2 November).
                             The government said it wanted negotiations to
                          be finished by the end of 2011. The union wrote to
                          the government saying it was unreasonable to ask
                          for agreement by the end of the year and that the
                          union would work to its own timetable.
                          An immediate bone of contention between the FBU
                          and the government is over its proposal for a 3.2%
                          increase in pension contributions, which it plans
                          to phase in over the next three years starting from
                          April 2012.
                              The FBU has submitted a detailed response to
                          the government on this issue. The union argues that
                          the proposed increases in pension contributions
                          are completely unjustified. The planned increases
                          are unfair in the current economic situation,
                          particularly with a high cost of living and because
                          firefighters already pay among the highest contribu-
                          tions of any public sector workers.
                              The union also believes the increases will be self-
                          defeating financially. If members opt out of their
                          pension scheme, this would undercut the expected
                          revenue. The increased contributions are a tax on
                          public sector workers, a deficit reduction measure
                          where any revenue raised would not even go towards
                          members’ pensions. The government is expected to
                          respond on this issue early in January this year.
                          Other developments
                          The FBU has also been representing control members
                          in the scheme-specific discussions for the Local
                          Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). The consulta-
                          tion dates vary for other schemes, with a consultation
                          deadline of 6 January for the LGPS. The LGPS cost
                          ceiling was originally set in October at 17.8% and
                          then changed upwards to 20.4% on 2 November.
                             The union is also appealing against the December
                          High Court decision on the way pensions are
                          uprated for inflation. While one of the three judges
                          said the government’s decision to use the consumer
                          price index (CPI) instead of the traditionally
                          higher retail price index (RPI) was unlawful and
                          should be quashed, the other two decided that the
                          government was within its rights (see page 4).
                             Matt Wrack said: “To summarise the current
                          position, there is currently no ‘offer’ on pensions
                          and discussions will continue on the government’s
                          proposals and our challenges to them. The FBU’s
                          executive council has agreed to meet early in the
                          new year to consider reports from these discussions.
                          Should any significant or urgent developments
                          occur, the executive council will reconvene earlier.”
                          > More information: The FBU’s circulars, submis-
                          sions and other information are available on the
                          union’s website

“We produced detailed
 and robust arguments
 and they have not been
 adequately addressed”
                                    January/February 2012 FireFighter 13

     FBU advances
     campaign for
     new flood law
             The new duty on emergency response to
             flooding in Northern Ireland shows why it is
             needed in England and Wales as well

        14 FireFighter January/February 2012
              ighteen people, including children,            Cuts in central government budgets mean that
              had to be rescued by firefighters from      Defra (Department for Environment Food and
              flooded houses near Omagh, Northern         Rural Affairs) has cut capital investment for flood
              Ireland last October. With flood            defences by 27% from £354m last year, to £259m
              incidents like this on the increase, it’s   for each year of the spending review.
              no wonder that politicians in Northern         With less spent on flood defences, there will be
Ireland listened to the Fire Brigades Union and           more work to do for the emergency services when
brought forward legislation to make flood response        floods hit.
a legal duty in the province.                                The FBU’s arguments were also backed by the final
   The Fire and Rescue Services (Emergencies)             report of the flood defence assessment, Exercise
Order (Northern Ireland) 2011 came into force on          Watermark. Published in October, it acknowledged
1 January this year.                                      the challenges in tracking and managing flood
   From now on the fire board in Northern Ireland         rescue assets and concluded that fire and rescue
has to make provision for “serious flooding”,             services and other parties needed to “use their
rescuing people trapped or likely to be trapped by        resources better, decide whether there is enough
water and protecting them from serious harm. The          resource and to consider how best to coordinate
new law is almost identical to one passed in Scotland     with others”.
in 2005. But fire authorities in England and Wales           A wide range of emergency planners and
are not yet required to respond to major flooding –       responders said that the exercise “showed that the
an anomaly that increasingly makes no sense.              amount of resource needed is not fully understood
                                                          for the impact of a severe, wide-area emergency”.
‘It shows what is possible’
                                                             The key recommendation in the report was that
Jim Quinn, FBU brigade secretary in Northern              Defra should work with other government depart-
Ireland, said: “We welcome the introduction of            ments “to clarify how local and national flood
this new law on flooding, which the union has
campaigned for over many years. It shows that it is
possible to convince politicians and civil servants of    ‘At a time of
our case.”
   The new law in Northern Ireland is the result of        austerity, anything
consistent campaigning by the FBU. For the past
five years the union has been speaking to local
                                                           that is not nailed
politicians about the need for a duty to respond to
flooding. With more flood incidents in recent years
                                                           down in law
and the expectation of more to come with climate
change, there is no doubt about the risks to local
                                                           risks being cut
communities.                                               in the desperate
                                                           attempts to
   The FBU also made an important contribution
to the consultation process when the emergen-
cies order was announced – not least because
the original draft did not include flooding. But
following the union’s intervention, officials at the
                                                           balance budgets’
Department of Health, Social Services and Public          rescue assets should be coordinated, for example
Safety listened to the union’s arguments and              statutory duty …”
amended the law to include flooding.                         FBU national officer Dave Green said: “The FBU
                                                          has met with ministers and MPs to press the case
Key recommendation
                                                          for a statutory duty in England and Wales.
“We now want to see the equipment and training               “We think the Exercise Watermark report
provided to our members so they can carry on              underlines the point firefighters are making. We
rescuing people in our communities safely,” said          need a law so that firefighters get the necessary
Jim Quinn.                                                training and equipment to rescue people during
    The new law in Northern Ireland implements a          floods. It’s as simple as that.
key recommendation of the Pitt review of the 2007
floods. It means that two of the three devolved           Much more needed
UK administrations have now made it a statutory           “Although there has been some money spent on
duty for the fire and rescue service to respond           boats and swift water rescue kit, we know that
to flooding.                                              much more is needed for major flood incidents.
    The FBU is pressing ministers in England and            “Local FBU officials are still saying that money
Wales to change the law and bring all services into       should be invested to train more firefighters and
line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.                  equip our members properly to deal with these
    The FBU’s case is strengthened by a recent            emergencies.
National Audit Office report. It found that over 5.2        “At a time of austerity, anything that is not
million (one in six) properties in England are at risk    nailed down in law risks being cut in the desperate
of flooding from rivers, the sea, or surface water and    attempts to balance budgets.
that the annual cost of flood damage in England             “For the sake of national resilience it is absolutely
is already at least £1.1bn. Even the government           vital that every fire service in the UK is duty-bound
accepts that the risk of flooding is only going to        to prepare for and respond to flooding and to be
increase with climate change.                             fully funded to do so.”

                                                                    January/February 2012 FireFighter 15

Job cuts
life and
national                               G
                                                  overnment cuts threaten
                                                  thousands of firefighter jobs
                                                  and will close fire stations
                                                  and put the public at risk,
                                       according to the latest information on

                                       fire authority budgets.
                                           The FBU is calling on firefighters
                                       to campaign against these cuts which
                                       threaten to pulverise the fire and rescue
                                          The first round of cuts saw over 1,000
                                       frontline posts lost by April 2011.
                                       The second wave is now getting under

Firefighter jobs are                   way. On top of this already planned
                                       onslaught, the chancellor dropped a

threatened by budget cuts
                                       bombshell in his autumn statement
                                       when he announced that there would be
                                       another two years’ worth – £30bn – of
announced by chancellor                public sector cuts. But he did not say
                                       where the cuts would fall.
George Osborne. And more                  FBU general secretary Matt Wrack
                                       commented: “The very fabric of our fire

cuts are threatened                    and rescue service is under attack from
                                       central government cuts. The FBU will

16 FireFighter January/February 2012
                                                                                                                                             JOB CUTS

                                              Job cuts 2011–13
                                                                         GMC Merseyside        W. Yorks     W. Mids         T&W       S. Yorks      Total
                                                Wholetime firefighters    75           92             82        120           58            41       468
                                                Non-uniformed             75           73             67        105           29            35       384
                                                Total                    150          165           149         225           87            76       852
                                                            Source: The Metropolitan Fire and Rescue Authorities response to the Government Resource Review

                                                 These cuts mean that metropolitan                     Budgets for 2012-13 will be set in
                                              chief officers have earmarked more than               the first months of this year. The FBU
                                              450 wholetime firefighter jobs for cuts               believes it is vital for firefighters to lobby
                                              between 2011 and 2013 and more than                   politicians to make the arguments for
                                              800 jobs from the service as a whole                  our service.
                                              (see table).
                                                 Chief officers in the metropolitan                 Campaign trail
                                              authorities are warning that a further                With two of the metropolitan authorities
                                              £80m cut from 2013 threatens the jobs                 and all four of its fire and rescue services
                                              of around 2,000 firefighters as well as the           under pressure, the FBU’s Yorkshire and
                                              closure of 50 fire stations and the loss of           Humberside region is on the campaign
                                              up to 100 appliances. They say these cuts             trail.
                                              are “unsustainable” and would lead to                    Ian Murray, FBU executive council
                                              “life-threatening reductions in fire cover            member for Yorkshire and Humberside,
                                              and national resilience capacity”.                    said: “We have had some recent successes
                                                 The FBU believes that this probably                when fighting cuts to the fire service.
                                              understates the threat – the cuts could               In Humberside we ran a successful
                                              cost thousands more firefighter jobs.                 campaign to oppose fire station closures,
                                                                                                    by getting organised and getting local
                                              Across the board
                                                                                                    members involved.
                                              Metropolitan authorities are not the                     “We set up a campaign committee
                                              only ones that face budget pressures.                 with an open invite to all branches to
                                              Some combined authorities, such as                    send a rep along. We organised collecting
                                              Cambridgeshire, Cleveland, Durham,                    signatures for petitions, the signing of
                                              Nottinghamshire and Shropshire, were                  ‘letters of objection’ and built up to a
                                              also hit with the maximum cut in the                  mass rally and march attended by 500
                                   Cuts       first year.                                           firefighters and local trades unionists,
                                 protest          There is no comfort for any fire                  which really raised public awareness.”
                                 in Hull      authority. The Westminster government
                                              is “backloading” its cuts. This means                 Getting organised
be at the forefront of campaigning to         that those hit less hard in the first round           Greater Manchester is also getting
defend the fire and rescue service.”          may receive the harshest settlements for              organised in the face of cuts. Brigade
    Last year’s local government finance      2013-14 and 2014-15.                                  secretary Paul Fogerty said: “We are
settlement imposed an overall 5.8% cut           Matt Wrack said: “This is not about                facing a minimum budget deficit of
on the fire and rescue service in England     redistributing funds from an ever-                    £23m in the next four years due to the
for the two years 2011-12 and 2012-13.        shrinking pot, but securing decent                    disproportionate funding cuts to the
Overall, six of the English metropolitan      funding for the whole of the fire and                 metropolitan brigades.
fire authorities (Greater Manchester,         rescue service. The FBU recognises                        “Despite ministers stating that no
Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Tyne             that the English metropolitan authori-                frontline posts are to be lost, we face
and Wear, West Midlands and West              ties have taken the biggest hit in the                a reduction of over 250 operational
Yorkshire) were hit twice as hard as the      first round of cuts and we believe this               personnel in the next couple of years.
combined fire authorities (see Firefighter,   will have a devastating effect on our                    “Involving the wider membership, we
March 2011).                                  members’ jobs and on the quality of                   have begun a campaign to increase public
                                              the service.”                                         awareness of the dangers of these cuts. It
Olympics                                         He added: “Every fire and rescue                   includes using the media, leafleting local
The metropolitan authorities shouldered       service is facing the pinch. Firefighters             communities and writing to councillors
nearly two-thirds of the cuts in English      want the service funded properly, not a               and MPs.
fire and rescue services outside London       race to the bottom where no one wins.”                   “We also have our own website, which
in the first two years.                          FBU officials are highlighting pressures           shows where the cuts will hit hardest and
   But London is also being hit, with         on budgets across the UK that have                    directs individuals to their local politi-
£50m of reserves handed to the                potentially devastating effects. For                  cians with their contact details.”
Metropolitan Police and a further £65m        example, Gloucestershire fire and rescue                 In 2012, firefighters will need to step
in cuts expected to kick in with earnest      service plans to cut nearly one in eight              up campaigning to defend jobs and
after the Olympics.                           full-time frontline firefighters.                     defend the service.

                                                                                                   January/February 2012 FireFighter 17

Asbestos                                                                                                                                                 The
Westminster                                                                                                                                          was to save
Ian McFall, head                                                                   cause any physical symptoms.        Court rulings                      legislation in Scotland (and
                                                                                   However they represent irre-        The Law Lords agreed with          Northern Ireland). The insurers
of asbestos policy                                                                 versible structural damage to       the insurers that the presence     – Axa, Royal Sun Alliance,
at Thompsons                                                                       the lungs. Someone diagnosed        of pleural plaques did not         Zurich and Aviva – claimed
                                                                                   with plaques will, understand-      constitute an injury which could   the legislation was incom-
Solicitors, looks at                                                               ably, suffer anxiety due to the     gave rise to a claim. The right    patible with the European
the implications of                                                                increased risk of going on to       of pleural plaques sufferers       Convention on Human
                                                                                   develop a more serious or fatal     throughout the UK to pursue        Rights and so was outside
a recent Supreme                                                                   asbestos-related condition.         compensation was ended.            the legislative competence
Court ruling                                                                          Firefighters may know                The Scottish government        of the Scottish Parliament.
                                                                                   former colleagues who have          acted swiftly to restore the       They also said that it was an
Firefighters and retired                                                           died from mesothelioma, the         right to compensation for          “unreasonable, irrational
firefighters with the asbestos-                                                    cancer of the lining of the lung    Scottish citizens. The effect      and arbitrary” exercise of the
related condition pleural                                                          caused by asbestos.                 of its Act was to declare that     legislative authority of the
plaques face a postcode lottery                                                       It was accepted by the courts    pleural plaques are a personal     Scottish Parliament.
for compensation after the                                                         for 20 years, until challenged by   injury for the purposes of a           But the court accepted
Supreme Court ruled that the                                                       insurers, that pleural plaques      claim for damages.                 that the legislation served a
Scottish Parliament and the                                                        did constitute personal injury          The Northern Ireland           legitimate social policy aim and
Northern Ireland Assembly had                                                      which should be compensated.        Assembly took the same             was a proportionate means of
the right to pass laws for the                                                     The insurers’ motivation was,       approach and passed a similar      achieving it. It also accepted
benefit of their citizens.                                                         of course, to save billions by      act earlier this year.             that Scottish pleural plaques
    People in England and                                                          preventing tens of thousands            In unanimously rejecting       sufferers who were directly
Wales diagnosed with the                                                           of people with plaques              the insurers’ appeal, the          affected by the insurers’ legal
     same condition continue                                                       from making claims against          Supreme Court delivered a          challenge had a right to object
       to be unable to pursue                                                      negligent employers.                ringing endorsement of the         to it.
                                   DU CANE MEDICAL IMAGING LTD/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

          against their former                                                                                                                            Democratic rights
          employers.                                                                                                                                      This decision recognises the
           The welcome decision                                                                                                                           democratic right of the Scottish
       by the UK’s highest court                                                                                                                          Parliament to legislate for
     was made in response to                                                                                                                              the benefit of its citizens. In
a challenge by the insurance                                                                                                                              Scotland the rights of people
industry to the lawfulness of an                                                                                                                          with pleural plaques are more
Act of the Scottish Parliament                                                                                                                            important than the commercial
– The Damages (Asbestos-                                                                                                                                  interests of insurers, which is
related Conditions) (Scotland)                                                                                                                            how it ought to be.
Act 2009.                                                                                                                                                     The failure of the
                                                                                                                                                          Westminster government to act
What are pleural                                                                                                                                          leaves it isolated.
plaques?                                                                                                                                                      Only the discredited
The Act was passed in order                                                                                                                               arguments of insurers and poli-
to reverse the decision of the                                                                                                                            ticians could attempt to justify
House of Lords in 2007, in a                                                                                                                              why people in Scotland and
case called Rothwell v Chemical                                                                                                                           Northern Ireland whose lungs
& Insulating Co Ltd, to end                                                                                                                               have been damaged by asbestos
compensation for pleural                                                                                                                                  are entitled to compensation
plaques – a scarring of the                                                                                                                               while those suffering from the
lining of the lungs caused by                                                                                                                             same condition in England
exposure to asbestos.                                                                  Coloured chest X-ray of a patient showing pleural plaque           and Wales are left without
    Pleural plaques seldom                                                             (red/yellow) on the right lung                                     a remedy.

18 FireFighter January/February 2012

Legal Beagle
What are
my rights
as a father?
     My partner is pregnant                                                                               discriminated against that
     and I would like to                                                                                  employee by failing to comply
take time off to help look                                                                                with the obligation to make a
after the baby. As a father,                                                                              reasonable adjustment.
what are my rights?                                                                                         An employer may also act
                                                                                                          unreasonably if it fails to
       Parents of children born                                                                           consider ill-health retirement
       since April 2011 (and                                                                              as an alternative to dismissal.
parents of adopted children
matched on or after that date)
have the right to “share” the                                                                                  I bought Christmas
mother’s maternity leave.                                                                                      presents over the
  This means that a mother                                                                                internet, some were not
can transfer the last six                                                                                 what I thought I had
months of her 52-week                                                                                     ordered and some did not
maternity leave to the father if                                                                          arrive. What are my rights?
she decides to return to work
before the end of her leave.       SATOSHI KAMBAYASHI
                                                                                                                 Goods bought over the
As with current paternity                                                                                        internet should match
leave, (which only lasts for two   12 months after                                         the size of    any description the seller has
weeks), additional paternity       the child is born (or                              the employer        given. If goods are substan-
leave extends to partners and      adopted).                         and resources available to           tially different to the
civil partners of mothers.         ● The minimum period of           it. For an employer the size         description on the website, you
  This is intended to give         leave is two consecutive          of the fire service, it is likely    will be entitled to reject the
families greater flexibility in    weeks and the maximum is 26       to be unreasonable for the           goods and claim a refund. The
how they choose to look after      consecutive weeks.                employer not to have at least        goods should also be of satis-
their children.                    ● Strict notice provisions will   considered suitable alternative      factory quality and fit for the
  The rules state that:            apply to leave entitlement.       employment.                          purpose they have been sold
● Fathers who have been                                                 Suitable vacancies should         for. It they are damaged or
employed continuously for at                                         ordinarily be on the same            faulty then, again, you can
least 26 weeks will be entitled          Is there a duty on          terms and conditions.                reject them and claim a refund.
to up to six months’ extra               brigades to find            However, if the only job that           Buyers have the right to
leave, which can be taken once     alternative employment for        is available is on a lower rate      change their mind, even if
the mother has returned to         someone unable to carry           of pay or of a lower grade,          there is nothing wrong with
work.                              out their duties due to           an employer will not neces-          the goods and to get their
● Some of the leave may            ill health?                       sarily be acting unfairly if an      money back. They may have to
be paid if taken during the                                          employee is dismissed because        pay for the cost of returning
mother’s 39-week maternity               Employers have a duty to    they do not wish to take up the      the goods to the seller. Orders
pay period at the same rate as           consider redeploying        lower status or lower paid post.     must be cancelled (unless
statutory maternity pay.           employees who are not able to        Where an employee is on           they are perishable items
● Parents will be required         carry out some or all of their    long-term sickness absence           or unsealed audio, video or
to “self certify” by providing     former duties, unless the         due to a disability, in certain      computer discs).
details of their eligibility to    medical evidence indicates        circumstances an employer               If orders are not delivered
their employer. Employers          there is no possibility of the    may be acting unfairly if it fails   within 30 days of being placed
and HMRC will both be able         employee being fit to return      to create a post to assist the       then you will be entitled to
to carry out further checks of     to work.                          employee to return to work.          cancel the order and claim
entitlement if necessary.             In considering whether or         An employer who fails to          a refund.
● The leave can start from 20      not an employer has acted         allow a disabled employee to         > For more information
weeks after the baby’s birth       reasonably, an employment         return to work on a phased           on consumer rights go to:
(or adoption) and must end         tribunal will take into account   basis may also be held to have

                                                                                            January/February 2012 FireFighter 19

‘Once the article
 appeared, the
 phone never
 stopped ringing’
Jason Jenkinson recounts an
unforgettable trip in solidarity
with US firefighters
Remembering 9/11
Sheffield firefighter Jason Jenkinson has vivid
memories of watching the horrors of 9/11 unfold on
television after coming off nights on red watch at the
city’s central fire station on 11 September 2001. The
carnage seemed unbelievable as first one, and then
another plane flew into the World Trade Centre’s
twin towers.
    “Flames were leaping out of the towers and fire-
fighters were piling in,” says Jason, who got straight
on the phone to friend, fellow firefighter and biker
Richard Barr. In common with millions in front rooms
and offices across the world, the two South Yorkshire
firefighters watched aghast.
                                                          Jason, kneeling front left, with
Honouring fallen comrades                                 colleagues at Ground Zero
Ten years to the day, Jason and Richard were among
a group of 32 UK and two New Zealand firefighters
standing alongside New York colleagues in Riverside                     Rest break on the
Park, not far from Ground Zero. Firefighters from                     way to Pennsylvania
many countries gathered to honour the 343 fire-           Hertfordshire brigade secretary, trade union interna-
fighters who died attempting to rescue people trapped     tionalist and keen motorcyclist, had not blazed the
in the burning buildings.                                 trail in 2010, linking up with AFFMC members from
    “It was a very moving ceremony,” says Jason, who      Chicago and joining them in the ride to New York.
had visited the World Trade Centre as a tourist 18           The trip went so well that Tony was invited to
years earlier. “It took 40 minutes to read out the name   return with UK motorcycling colleagues from the FBU
of every firefighter who died. A bell was rung for each   for the tenth anniversary trip. Tony recounted his trip
one and there was a sea of flags in the park, commem-     in Firefighter (June 2010) and asked if there was any
orating each individual. The daughter of one of those     interest out there.
who died sang. It felt a real honour to be there.”           And there certainly was. “Once the article appeared,
    The firefighters’ remembrance ceremony was held as    the phone never stopped ringing,” says Tony. The
relatives of people from 90 countries who died at the     trip was on. Flights and motorbikes were booked.
World Trade Centre held their own commemoration at        “The British Firefighters Motorcycle Club (BFFMC),        ‘I reckon
Ground Zero.                                              a recognised chapter of the AFFMC, was officially
                                                          launched on 9 September when we made our inaugural
Visit to America                                          ride out of Chicago,” recalls Tony who is president of     were
For Jason, Richard and the other UK firefighters,         the BFFMC.
New York was the final stop on a very special trip to        Jason Jenkinson, who has served for 15 years at         around
America: visiting all 9/11 crash sites by motorbike
as guests of American Firefighters Motorcycle Club
                                                          Sheffield Central, and Richard Barr, now at Maltby
                                                          station, were keen to join, visit the crash sites, ride
(AFFMC) who have been making the commemorative
ride from Chicago annually for the past nine years.
                                                          through spectacular scenery and bond with American
                                                          colleagues. The experience did not disappoint.
                                                                                                                     bikes on
   It would not have happened if Tony Smith, FBU             “We were treated like kings by the American             the trip’
20 FireFighter January/February 2012
                                                                                                  ‘I’m sure now
                                                                                                   there’s been this
                                                                                                   ride there’ll be
                                                                                                   more to come
                                                                                                   now the club
                                                                                                   has been

                              JASON JENKINSON
                              Sheffield firefighter Jason Jenkinson was
                              one of several who responded to an article
                              in Firefighter asking if any motorcycling
                              enthusiasts were interested in visiting the
                              United States as a guest of the American
                              Firefighters Motorcycle Club
                                                                                                   Richard Barr and Jason
                                                                                                   Jenkinson (right) with New
                                                                                                   York’s One World Trade Center
                                                                                                   in the background

firefighters,” said Jason. “They were grateful that we’d                    go with you’ and went out on the job. Quite a few never
made the effort to come – but we should have been                           came back. There were photos on the wall. Feelings
thanking them. It was a privilege to be there and the                       were still quite raw ten years on.”
hospitality was amazing.                                                       Jason, who normally rides a Harley Davidson
    “The trip was incredible. The police and the fire                       Sportster 883, hired the much bigger Harley Davidson
service shut the roads off while we drove out of                            Road King for the trip, clocking up 2,356 miles over
Chicago with police escorts. It was the same when we                        13 days. There were some pillion riders on the ride –
got to Washington, where we laid a large poppy at the                       including a female firefighter from Leicestershire – and
Pentagon. By the time we got to New York I reckon                           a serving policeman in the UK group.
there were around 4,000 bikes on the trip, with more                           “Tony played a pivotal role. We travelled as a group
joining in Pennsylvania.”                                                   and did everything together,” says Jason, who was
                                                                            interviewed by South Yorkshire media while on the
Rescue 1                                                    ‘It was a       trip. “I’m sure now there’s been this ride there’ll be
Jason won’t forget his visit to Rescue 1, a New York Fire
Department unit that responds when rescue operations
                                                             privilege      more to come now the club has been formed.”
                                                                               There certainly will. The BFFMC will play host to
need special equipment and training (lift shafts, for        to be          AFFMC members in summer 2013, if all goes to plan.
instance), not far from Ground Zero. A small group                          There will be rides to Scotland and a visit to Omaha
were invited by firefighters who had suffered terrible       there, the     Beach cemetery in Normandy – where many American
loss. “It was quite hard to swallow what these guys had
been through. They’d lost 11 colleagues, some from the
                                                             hospitality    troops landed, and lost their lives, during the D-Day
                                                                            landings in 1944.
day shift, some from the night shift. News of the twin
towers attack broke at shift change-over time. The day
                                                             was               Not to mention the possibility of another trip to the
                                                                            9/11 sites in 2015.
shift was just coming on but the night shift said: ‘We’ll    amazing’       >

                                                                                      January/February 2012 FireFighter 21

Prize                                                           1         2          3                          4              5     6

                                                          7                                               8


                                                          10                                      11

                                                          12                         13

 WIN!                                                                14              15                                        16

                                                                17                                                                   18

                                                          19              20                                    21             22

Win the new, smaller, lighter,
faster Kindle with built in wi-fi                         23                                                    24

To win the new Kindle please send your answers
by 29 February 2012 on a postcard to: Prize
Competition (Jan/Feb 2012) FBU Head Office,               25                                              26
Bradley House, 68 Coombe Road, Kingston upon
Thames, Surrey KT2 7AE. Please include your
name, address and membership number. The
winner selected at random from all correct entries.
     Which American                                       ACROSS                                        DOWN
e    president said the
following, “Fellow
                                                           7 Government’s 6 plan, part 1 (3,4)           1 Confection made by heating
                                                           8 But (7)                                       sugar (7)
citizens, we cannot
escape history”?                                          10 Eight pints (6)                             2 You’ll have to break eggs to make
                                                                                                           one (8)
A. Abraham Lincoln                                        11 Amaze, gobsmack (8)
B. George Bush                                                                                           3 Spanish fascist dictator to 1975 (6)
                                                          12 Property of fire (4)
C. Bill Clinton                                                                                          4 Shoes etc (8)
                                                          13 Not drinking, at all (2,3,5)
D. George Washington                                                                                     5 Painful condition in which
                                                          14 Not permanently (11)
                                                                                                           internal organ protrudes through
     Which of the                                         19 Former fictional TV school (6,4)
r    following
philosophers said, “The
                                                          22, 21 Government’s 6 plan, part 2
                                                                                                           abdominal wall (6)
                                                                                                         6 Deferred wages, under attack (7)
                                                                                                         9 Artist’s greatest work (11)
history of all hitherto
existing society is the                         e         23 (Highly) charged: full of
                                                              expectation (the kettle could
                                                                                                        15 Painful inflammation of pleural
history of class                                                                                           cavity around lungs (8)
struggles”?                  B. George Bernard Shaw           be!) (8)
                             C. William Shakespeare                                                     16 Legislator (8)
A. Georg Wilhelm                                          24 Almost (6)
   Friedrich Hegel           D. Moliere                                                                 17 Wheeled stretcher, shopping cart
                                                          25 Government’s 6 plan, part 3 (3,4)
B. Friedrich Nietzsche                                                                                     (7)
                                  Which famous            26 Retribution: best served cold? (7)
C. Karl Marx
D. Aristotle
                             u    revolutionary said,
                             “History will
                                                                                                        18 Three-part work (7)
                                                                                                        20 Ms Kidman, actor (6)
     Which famous            absolve me”?                                                               21 See 22 (6)
t    playwright said,
“There is a history in all
                             A. Che Guevara
                             B. Fidel Castro              Last month’s answers and winners
men’s lives”?                C. Emiliano Zapata                                                        Crossword solution
A. Tennessee Williams        D. William Wallace                                                        November/December
                                  Which famous                                                         November/December
                             i    author wrote,
                             “History is strewn thick
                                                                                                       quiz answers
                                                                                                       1. D. Oliver Cromwell
                             with evidence that a                                                      2. C. Jacob Farley
                             truth is not hard to kill,                                                3. A. Silent Night
                             but a lie, well told, is                                                  4. C. Cake
                             immortal”?                                                                5. B. 364
                             A. Maya Angelou                                                           Winner of the October quiz
                             B. Anton Chekhov                                                          Martin Bonner, Hartlepool
                  u          C. Oscar Wilde
                             D. Mark Twain

22 FireFighter January/February 2012

Station Cat                                                                                      Francis Maude:

The fat cat
                                                                                                £41,000 a year
                                                                                              of public service

with a public                                                                                      and lower

service pension
                                                                                               PICTURE: STEFANO CAGNONI

Sharing the pain                                                                                                     unwelcome tax implications for
                                                                                                                     him – enough, he said, to have
      Here’s a memo from our                                                                                         put him off the idea of early
      “we’re all in it together”                                                                                     retirement if he’d known. He
department. Francis Maude                                                                                            had to be compensated.
speaks for the government on                                                             As much use as                  Mr Patterson puts it
pensions, and tells us how                                                               a … combined                succinctly: “As a consequence,
anyone in the private sector will                                                        aerial rescue               over the next five to six years
feel envious of public sector                                                            pump?                       approximately £247,000 that
pensions. One person who has                                                                                         could have been used to support
no reason for envy is Mr Maude,      it’s a nice bit of plaice. But       investigation into one of the              public services in Herefordshire
who will get a massive private       that’s not how they feel in          most disastrous projects ever.             and Worcestershire will now
pension when he reaches              Doncaster, where CARP stands                                                    need to be paid to meet the
retirement age in 2018. Between      for combined aerial rescue           When is a chief …                          tax penalties for making unau-
1992 and 2011 he was a director      pump. We told you last time                Hereford and Worcester’s             thorised payments; the costs
of 27 companies: six were            about how the crew had been                former chief fire officer            of professional advisers; and to
dissolved and three went bust.       forced to stop on the way to a       Paul Hayden cost the county                reach a compromise settlement
    From 1993 to 1997 he             fire in order to put out a fire on   enough when he worked for it.              of the claim for loss from the
was also managing director           their own CARP. Now comes            He’s costing it a fortune now              outgoing CFO.”
of investment bankers                news that as a Doncaster             he’s retired.                                  Pete Hope puts it even more
Morgan Stanley in London             CARP’s crew lowered its cage to         A new report from district              succinctly: “They are patting
and New York. There, the             the ground, the boom buckled         auditor Grant Patterson says               themselves on the back for a job
highest director’s salary went       so badly that the whole              that Mr Hayden’s bungled                   well done, but if I hadn’t made a
from £786,873 in 1994 to             appliance has had to go back to      retirement has cost the public             fuss it would have cost far more.
£1,708,063 in 1996. Maude’s          Holland for more expensive           purse £247,000. The actual                 The fire authority has been
salary is not disclosed, but,        repairs. Local firefighters have     cost is higher than that, but              found wanting – they only do
as MD in two countries, he           built their own alternative – see    insurance policies will meet               what the CFO tells them.”
will have been one of the            picture, above – which, they         the rest.
highest paid – and will get his      say, is a lot more useful.              Here’s what happened. Mr                Join the club
pension on top of that. He’s                                              Hayden wanted to retire when                      Another memo from the
not disclosing the size of that      Comment not free                     he reached the age of 50 in                       “we’re all in it together”
pension. Perhaps next time he’s            You’ll never guess what        May 2010 on a bumper tax-free              department. The former chief
interviewed, someone might                 happened to most of the        pension. He told the fire                  fire officer for Lincolnshire,
ask him. The wealthy Mr Maude        money the Chief Fire Officers        authority that he did not think            Mike Thomas, spent £26,768 in
gets his public sector pension as    Association got from the             he needed its permission, and              a year for 12 trips to countries
a convenient top-up: a pension,      government for professional          the authority agreed.                      including the USA, New
for having been an MP for 28         advice last year. Oh, you               The view was based on a                 Zealand, Japan and Canada.
years, of about £31,000 a year,      guessed. Yes, it was FireControl     legal quibble: chief fire officers             Apparently he authorised
for which his contribution           which absorbed £362,246 of           need permission to retire at               his own expenses. He often
this year is actually falling, not   the £576,533 the government          50, but brigade managers do                travelled business class. One of
rising, and a minister’s pension     paid for professional advice. In     not, and for these purposes,               his flights, to Wellington, New
of £10,000 a year. We’re all in it    other words, they might as          Mr Hayden contended he was a               Zealand, cost £3,999 on a Club
together, but some of us are           well have burned the money.        brigade manager.                           World British Airways ticket
deeper in than others.                    How do we know? Because            Then FBU brigade secretary              – but another, presumably
                                           the Public Accounts            Pete Hope raised the alarm –               more junior, council employee
Dutch                                        Committee asked CFOA         and the fire authority belatedly           travelled to the same city on
carriage                                      for details of the          took legal advice and found                an economy ticket costing
    There’s nothing the                           payments during         that Mr Hayden probably did                £783. School transport in
    station cat likes                                      the            need permission, after all. This,          Lincolnshire has been drasti-
more than a carp, unless                                                  said Mr Hayden, would have                 cally cut to save money.

                                                                                                  January/February 2012 FireFighter 23
25-year badges                                                                                                FBU regional offices
                                                                                                              REGION 1 Scotland
                                                                                                              52 St Enoch Square, Glasgow,
                                                                                                              Scotland G1 4AA
                                                                                                              0141 221 2309,
                                                                                                              REGION 2 Northern Ireland
                                                                                                              14 Bachelors Walk, Lisburn,
                                                                                                              Co Antrim, BT28 1XJ
                                                                                                              02892 664622,
                                                                                                              REGION 3 Cleveland, Durham,
                                                                                                              Northumberland, Tyne & Wear
                                                                                                              1 Carlton Court, 5th Avenue, Team Valley,
                                                                                                              Gateshead, NE11 0AZ
                                                                                                              0191 487 4142,
                                                                                                              REGION 4 Yorks and Humberside
                                                                                                              9 Marsh Street, Rothwell,
Paul Layfield (l), Durham,            Tony Grufferty (l), Durham,          Peter Siberry (l), Durham,         Leeds, LS26 0AG
receives his 25-year badge from       receives his 25-year badge from      receives his 25-year badge from    0113 288 7000,
brigade chair Lee Brown               Durham brigade chair Lee Brown       brigade chair Lee Brown            REGION 5 Greater Manchester, Lancs,
                                                                                                              Isle of Man, Cumbria, Merseyside,
                                                                                                              The Lighthouse, Lower Mersey St,
                                                                                                              Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 2AL
                                                                                                              0151 357 4400,
                                                                                                              REGION 6 Derbys, Notts, Lincs, Leics,
                                                                                                              Little Dennis Street South (above
                                                                                                              Dawsons), Nottingham NG2 4EU
                                                                                                              0115 947 2042,
                                                                                                              REGION 7 West Mids, Staffs, Warks,
                                                                                                              Hereford & Worcester, Salop
                                                                                                              195/7 Halesowen Rd, Old Hill,
Tony Collier (r), white watch,        Steve Whitehouse (l), Lichfield,     Roger Gerry (r), white watch,      West Midlands, B64 6HE
Torquay, receives his 25-year         Staffordshire, receives his          Torquay, receives his 25-year      01384 413633,
badge from brigade membership         25-year badge from regional          badge from brigade membership      REGION 8 Mid and West Wales, North
secretary Andy Gould                  secretary Chris Downes               secretary Andy Gould               Wales, South Wales
                                                                                                              4 Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Pencoed,
                                                                                                              Bridgend, CF35 5LJ
                                                                                                              01656 867910,
                                                                                                              REGION 9 Herts, Beds, Cambs, Essex,
                                                                                                              Norfolk, Suffolk
                                                                                                              28 Atlantic Square, Station Road,
                                                                                                              Witham, Essex, CM8 2TL
                                                                                                              01376 521521,
                                                                                                              REGION 10 London
                                                                                                              John Horner Mews, Frome Street,
                                                                                                              Islington, London, N1 8PB
                                                                                                              020 7359 3638,
                                                                                                              REGION 11 Kent, Surrey, Sussex
Andy Peart (r), North Lincs           Graham Quickfall (l), branch         Steve Critten (r), red watch,      Unit 11, Hunns Mere Way,
Community Protection Unit,            rep, green watch, Immingham          Cromwell Road station, Grimsby,    Woodingdean, Brighton, BN2 6AH
                                                                                                              01273 309762,
Scunthorpe, receives his 25-year      East station, receives his 25-year   receives his 25-year badge from
                                                                                                              REGION 12 Bucks, Berks, Hants,
badge from regional secretary         badge from regional secretary        regional secretary Pete Smith      Oxon, Isle of Wight
Pete Smith                            Pete Smith                                                              FBU Regional Office, The Merlin
                                                                                                              Centre, Unit L, Gatehouse Close,
                                                                                                              Aylesbury HP19 8DP
                                                                                                              01296 482297,
                                                                                                              REGION 13 Cornwall, Devon and
                                                                                                              Somerset, Avon, Gloucs, Wilts, Dorset
                                                                                                              158 Muller Road, Horfield,
                                                                                                              Bristol, BS7 9RE
                                                                                                              0117 935 5132,

                                                                                                              Change of address or next of kin
                                                                                                              Advise your Brigade Organiser of any
                                                                                                              change of address and Head Office of
                                                                                                              changes to next of kin or nominations
Carolyn McArdle (l), and Helen        Andy Partridge (l), red watch,       Pete Wolf (r), green watch,        for benefits.
Wallace (r), Durham control,          Torquay, receives his 25-year        Paignton, receives his 25-year
receive their 25-year badges from     badge from branch secretary          badge from brigade membership      FBU FREEPHONE
brigade secretary Tony Curry          Scott Atkins                         secretary Andy Gould               LEGAL ADVICE LINE
                                                                                                              0808 100 6061
Please send photo prints or
                                                                                                              The line provides advice for
digital files to: Firefighter, FBU,
                                                                                                              personal injury, family law,
68 Coombe Road, Kingston upon
                                                                                                              wills, conveyancing, personal
Thames, KT2 7AE or firefighter@ Please include full
                                                                                                              finance and consumer issues.
details for every picture –                                                                                   For disciplinary and
full names of everyone who is in                                                                              employment-related queries
it; their station/brigade/watch                                                                               contact your local FBU
etc; where they are in the picture                                                                            representative.
(eg: left to right); their union
                            Dave Nott (l), Torquay, receives               Gary Millson (l), Lincolnshire,
posts/branch if relevant; and
                            his 25-year badge from branch                  receives his 25-year badge from
where and when it was taken.secretary Scott Atkins                         officers section chair Tim Joyce
24 FireFighter November/December 2010

To top