The magazine of the Fire Brigades Union > www.fbu.org.uk January/February 2008 to LoCaL ControLs! New pressure on England’s regional control project as Scotland rejects similar closure plans Page 10 RDS Cuts fightback pensions The latest moves Ill-health pensions Equality battle continues in to axe local fire services Page 6 The fight goes on as Union wins the courts important legal victory Page 12 Page 14 general secretary’s comment Four funerals I write this bulletin on this issue before john harris/reportdigital.co.uk shortly after Christmas. Our campaign is returning from progressing well. Warwickshire, We have won our first legal where I attended battle without having to go to the funerals court! We have also managed to of our four win the vast majority of the fire members killed and rescue service in support of in the incident at Atherstone- our campaign. on-Stour. This was the saddest It is difficult to find anyone week in the UK fire service for who is willing to even attempt many, many years. to justify the stance taken by Of course, it is the families the pension officials at the who have suffered the most. We Department for Communities can only hope that the many and Local Government. firefighters who attended the Indeed, it is increasingly funerals helped to provide some apparent that the only people comfort at such a difficult time. who agree with the CLG stance I know that local people are the CLG pension officials were remarkably impressed that themselves. firefighters from all over the UK Over the Christmas period attended the funerals. Indeed the we shall be continuing to lobby solidarity between firefighters ministers to give a favourable was commented upon during response to our demands. All we the services. want, after all, is justice. Once again, I would like Once again, I would urge to thank our local officials in everyone to take a couple of Warwickshire and the West minutes to send a letter or email Midlands region who have been to their MP to outline our case working non-stop in dealing with and urge them to support us. various aspects of this tragedy. We have made it very easy to We have been able to provide do this and provided the materials support and assistance to all through the Union’s website of our members who have (www.fbu.org.uk) where we have been interviewed as part of the a pension’ campaign page. The Last Post is played investigation. This is likely to be I can assure you that this at the funeral service for a long and difficult process for political lobbying is having an Ian Reid at St Gregory’s all concerned. effect. It has already prompted Church, Stratford on Avon The aim of the FBU in these the launch of a parliamentary circumstances is to ensure that Early Day Motion (EDM) which New Year, New Start, who want to be able to trample lessons are learned so that the will help to raise the profile of New Challenges on the rights and conditions safety of others can be improved. our cause. Whatever you can do Finally, may I take this won over many years. Despite That is just one of the tributes we to help is of value and everyone opportunity to wish all FBU many attempts, they have not yet can pay to Ian, John, Ashley and can play a part. members and their families a managed to shut us up or stop Darren. In early 2008 we shall be happy New Year. We continue us from fighting for the rights of starting the next round of this to face challenging times in firefighters – in all roles and on Pension campaign continues campaign. We shall be arranging the fire and rescue service on all duty systems. We get knocked Elsewhere, the union’s campaign meetings for members across the issues such as cuts, jobs, pay and down but we get up again! for pensions justice continues. UK and I would urge you to try pensions. Those who oppose the Happy New Year. You will all have received a to attend one in your locality. Fire Brigades Union are those matt Wrack 2 FireFighter January/February 2008 your letters This month paul box Justice for employer proposed in the future. To suggest also that these firefighter immoral proposals could be made retrospective beggars pensions The recent issue of Firefighter belief! We must remember also, it comes within weeks of the tragedy in Warwickshire, where 16 Meet Bob Smith, magazine (October 2007) on four firefighters gave their lives. head of Fire Control for Avon ill-health pensions should W J langworth make people think. I hope some in power manage to oot member Kent Regulars Features get hold of a copy. I found it – and a recent circular on Fire investigation 4 NEwS 8 Good PRACTICE How supportive are employers to the matter from the General Deaths touch colleagues at home Secretary – very interesting dogs’ pivotal role and abroad, RDS firefighters on their payrolls? Still no action on firework ‘bombs’ but still cannot understand I am saddened that the 10 yES To LoCAL why the Government should anonymous author (Fifth 5 SoUNdING oFF CoNTRoLS treat firefighters so. I’m 75 and Column, Firefighter Nov/ Seizing the opportunities Scotland’s decision should make remember when the service was Dec 2007). could not have offered by devolution government think again, says Union respected for the work it did. highlighted their concerns in I wish you every success in such a manner that focused 6 CUTS FIGhTBACk 12 PENSIoNS your fight for justice and the purely on those issues and not to A Firefighter round-up of how FBU FIGhT GoES oN members in England and Northern rights gained many years ago. the detriment of the work that First round to the FBU with Ireland are combatting cuts an important legal victory maurice scott fire investigation dogs do. oot member and former FBu Fire investigation dogs play 16 whAT doES area secretary, leeds a pivotal role in assisting fire 14 BATTLING FoR A Head of Fire Control do? investigators to determine the EqUALITy Immoral proposals origin and cause of even the 18 yoUR wELFARE Seven years and counting in the campaign for equal pensions most severe of fires in the form New Year, new start beggar belief of illegal fire setting. 19 LEGAL BEAGLE treatment for RDS firefighters It was with some dismay, if not With low morale, uncertainty Contracts of employment, disbelief, that I read the circular and so many people in the injury at work, asbestos from the General Secretary fire service feeling generally regarding the proposed abuse of undervalued, it’s good to have 20 dAy oFF the Fireman’s Pension Scheme. something, such as a fire investi- Meet keen – and good – I served for 30 years in the London Fire Brigade, and I gation dog, to be proud of, which will undoubtedly do some good. golfer Kenny Hankinson 22 PUzzLES WiN know that every person I served nikki Harvey Last year’s news is this PUZZLES a romantic with was well aware of the risks Fire investigation dog handler getaway issues prize quiz theme Win this month’s entailed in the job. Hertfordshire see p22 quiz, and you’ll get However, we all felt secure 23 STATIoN CAT enjoy a romantic in the knowledge we were in CoRReCtioNS: Two mistakes Brings you the news they getaway in a ‘caring’ employ, and in the event crept into our coverage of don’t want you to hear luxury four-star hotel of sickness, injury or even death, the Warwickshire tragedy we would have the full financial (Firefighter, November/ 24 25-yEAR BAdGES support of a good employer. This December 2007) The article applied also to our families. referred to the death of Paul To suggest now that Mallaghan of Stevenage Blue firefighters, who through no watch and said he died in March fault of their own, and who can 2007. In fact, Paul died in the no longer continue with their line of duty in June 2007. In profession, would be discharged addition, a quote attributed to an with neither pension or job is FBU official referred to Published by the Fire Brigades Union, Bradley House, 68 Coombe Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT2 7AE. unacceptable and I trust that the “the first time any firefighter www.fbu.org.uk Union will make that clear in no has died on duty in this brigade Tel: 020 8541 1765. Fax: 020 8546 5187 uncertain terms! To step back in the living memory of staff at Design by Edition Periodicals 241-251 Ferndale Road from this challenge would leave Warwickshire”. It should have London SW9 8BJ. www.editionperiodicals.co.uk. the door wide open to whatever read “the first multiple death in Printed by Southernprint Ltd, 17-21 Factory Road, threat any unscrupulous this brigade”. Upton Industrial Estate, Poole, Dorset BH16 5SN. January/February 2008 FireFighter 3 News January/February 2008 > Latest news > Sounding off Deaths touch waRwICkShIRE FIRE F BU officials joined the families, friends and colleagues at the funerals of the colleagues at four Warwickshire firefighters who died in the line of duty at the Atherstone- on-Stour fire on November 2 2007. At the four services held between November 30 home and abroad and December 7 tribute was paid to Darren Yates-Badley, John Averis, Ian Reid and Ashley Stephens. In a statement issued as the service and the community prepared for the funeral of Darren Yates-Badley on 7 December, FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: “The deaths of John, Ian, Ashley and Darren in the line of duty has been a terrible blow to their families and colleagues. They are a great loss also to the communities which they served with pride and conviction. “Their deaths have touched our colleagues in other fire services. Messages of support have come from serving firefighters and their unions from every continent. Those firefighters may express their grief and sadness in different languages and with different gestures. What unites us is knowledge of the risks and dangers inherent in firefighting. “These are the risks and dangers faced by all firefighters in all communities and all countries. Because of this, the deaths in Warwickshire have resonated in fire stations across the world. “The families of John, Ian, Ashley and Darren are united in their grief and sadness. In the fire service we also think of ourselves as a family and we are also united in that grief and sadness.” An inquest into the deaths opened in Stratford November 20. After Warwickshire coroner Michael Coker read statements from all four families, paying tribute to their loved ones, it was adjourned pending further investigation. Mr Coker told the families that they should be proud of their “gallant” loved ones and said: “Firefighting in an ordinary fire is a dangerous task and bravery is required to go into the circumstances that happen day by day. Every one of you can be john harris/reportdigital.co.uk proud, as I know you are, of the young men who are prepared to undertake that for the people of Warwickshire.” > Donations to: Warwickshire Firefighters Families Fund; Bank: Lloyds Bank; Sort Code: 30-00-02; A/C No.: 00581408 4 FireFighter January/February 2008 Sounding off! Still no action on toNY MaguiRe Regional Secretary Northern Ireland firework ‘bombs’ seizing the opportunities of devolution If we are to pursue objectives on behalf of our maRLIE FaRm already identified there and the public are being put members, FBU activists must campaign, lobby has been no action from needlessly at risk by this and negotiate in the environment beyond T he FBU renewed calls government, the Health and inaction. The current regime the CFO’s office. It is not the CFO driving the for an overhaul of the Safety Executive or the other is too complex and isn’t agenda on closing controls or stopping ill- health pensions. So we must focus energies regulations that cover regulatory agencies. working. where they will have the most impact. To the import, manufacture, “At present there is “We need one agency do this, we must develop an understanding transport and storage of no effective regulation in overall control. The and knowledge of contemporary political fireworks in the UK on of fireworks standards, regulating agencies need organisation, political and social change – the first anniversary of the labelling, transportation or to have a comprehensive and, where appropriate, the consequences of deaths of two fire service storage. Government and its programme of inspection devolution and the opportunities it presents. personnel in an explosion at agencies have done nothing and enforcement to achieve With this objective, in November 2006 Marlie Farm in East Sussex to properly address what we an acceptable level of risk.” Northern Ireland and Scotland FBU officials on 3 December 2006. have already learned about attended the Stormont Assembly as part The Union says the firework-linked explosions > For more on Marlie Farm and of an “Engaging With Politics” course. The other health and safety matters, training, delivered by Trevor Cave, Park Lane investigation into the Marlie at incidents in the UK and visit www.fbu.org.uk/workplace/ College, aims to help FBU officials consider Farm explosion uncovered other countries. the relevance of trade union engagement with a number of other incidents “Emergency services healthsafety local, regional, national and European politics. involving fireworks where The Stormont event created a perfect peter MacdiarMid/getty iMages lives had been lost and many opportunity for FBU activists to engage people injured. with a range of political representatives The Union warns that from Scotland and Northern Ireland, and emergency services and to outline our concerns and vision for the the public are being put in future of the fire and rescue services in both needless danger because Our activists left confident and of confused regulation, lack of monitoring and the better equipped to deal with poor labelling of imported the issues facing the FBU fireworks. administrations. As a direct result of that FBU General Secretary event, the FBU succeeded in a campaign Matt Wrack said: “In fires against the cuts proposals in Northern containers packed with Ireland’s IRMP. fireworks can cause the Next stop on the course, in November same devastation as some 2007, was Edinburgh, where Trevor drove military bombs and artillery a challenging schedule: the same officials working in small groups reviewed progress shells. and developments since the Stormont event “Despite the dangers Fire rages after the explosion at marlie Farm on December 3, 2006 and considered how to exploit opportunities for moving the FBU agenda forward. Save on your insurance needs Course activities culminated in a visit to the Scottish Parliament during First Minister’s Question Time. The event rounded off with an mEmbER bEnEFITS ■ Travel: Single trip or annual cover entertaining but challenging Question Time available. style debate with a panel comprised of members U IA Insurance, a specialist insurer that To find out how much you can save, call of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly, has been offering low cost insurance UIA on 0845 842 8421† (please quote ref Jeffrey Donaldson, (DUP), Carmel Hanna, (SDLP) and Daithi McKay, (SF), and members of the for trade union members and their FF1) (Lines are open 8.30am-8pm Mon-Fri, Scottish Parliament, Pauline McNeill, (Lab), families for over 100 years, is now 9am-1pm Sat) Or buy online at Nigel Don (SNP) and Margaret Smyth (Lib Dem). offering FBU members access to a www.fbuinsurance.co.uk FBU activists asked a variety of questions range of insurance products that † For quality and protection your call will be and commented on issues from the proposed “deliver peace of mind and assured recorded. We exchange information with closures of controls in Scotland to whether protection”. Special rates on these other insurance companies and the police Scotland could beat Italy. It was an intense comprehensive policies are: to prevent fraud. The FBU is an Introducer and exhausting few days, skilfully steered by ■ Home: Up to £50,000 to cover Appointed Representative of UIA (Insurance Trevor Cage and efficiently organised by FBU Services) Ltd and UIA (Insurance) Ltd. Travel insurance education officers Lynda Rowan-O’Neill, John your contents and up to £500,000 for is underwritten by Fortis Insurance Ltd. Motor Insurance Duffy and Stephen Boyd. Our activists left re-building costs. Interest free instalments. is administered by Fortis Limited. All these companies Edinburgh confident and better equipped to ■ Motor: Immediate cover available. Low are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services deal with the issues facing the FBU. cost breakdown cover option. Authority. January/February 2008 FireFighter 5 cuts fightback Services under threat in England and northern Ireland Cuts are threatening frontline fire services in rural and metropolitan brigades across England, while services also face the axe in Northern Ireland. Firefighter details below some of the proposals that will risk firefighter and public safety in the name of budget savings. against any frontline cuts and rob breMner eMily Whitfield-Wicks CoRNWall would urge the fire authority, Cornwall fire crews have rather than wield the axe, to welcomed a decision by challenge government spending the county’s executive to on regional controls at a time recommend that Camborne Fire when money should be better Station should remain crewed invested.” 24 hours a day. But they remain deeply concerned at the lack Somerset FBU Secretary said: avoN The current system had of detailed information given “These cuts will clearly impact In Avon, fire authority chief delivered a high class service to them and have demanded on our work and compromise councillor Terry Walker has for the past 30 years, he said. that councillors meet them to our safety and public safety. We warned of budget cuts with “The FBU has seen no evidence discuss details of the proposals. could lose nearly twice as many “devastating effects on our that any of these proposals will Terry Nottle, Cornwall frontline firefighter posts as communities.” maintain that service. FBU FBU brigade secretary said: under the old proposals. Those Tam McFarlane, FBU members have been making this “We welcome the news about were overwhelmingly rejected Executive Council member for clear in the consultation process Camborne, but there is no reason by the public and then by the the South West said: “It is very and oppose any changes that are why the threat should remain fire authority. clear that such cuts will have a detrimental.” over Falmouth. They have “This is not just showing devastating effect on the service, reprieved Camborne without the utter contempt for public and we cannot stand by and let HeRtFoRDSHiRe promised detailed risk assess- opinion. It is throwing it on the that happen. We will look at all Hertfordshire fire crews are ment, so why not do the same ground and kicking it in the options including industrial up in arms over a shortage of for Falmouth? We came into this teeth. The repeated promises action.” firefighters despite the county campaign determined to save from managers and councillors council agreeing in July 2006 24-hour immediate response that there would be no cuts after eaSt SuSSex that this problem would be cover at both stations. That Devon and Somerset merged In East Sussex, the brigade resolved. resolve remains.” have been ripped to shreds.” is considering a change in While engines fail to shift patterns that would see mobilise and crews attend DevoN aND SoMeRSet DoRSet 36 firefighters removed from incidents short of personnel, Devon and Somerset FBU is In Dorset, chief fire officer the frontline or fewer pumps the council has begun to take warning that a new and more Darran Gunter has warned of available for call out, among a more firefighters off frontline severe cuts package will test the budget cuts that will directly and number of options. duties – something that politi- limits of safe working for fire adversely affect the service. Brigade secretary Steve cians agreed not to do following crews. As many as 66 frontline “The options for these cuts Huggins said the FBU was industrial action last year. firefighter posts could be lost. may include the number of concerned about the options of Local firefighter’s concerns The authority put the proposals fire engines or possibly closing variable crewing and annual- are also growing over the out to consultation for an stations throughout Dorset.” ised hours “which will reduce shortage of experienced eight-week period straddling Dorset brigade secretary frontline crews and conse- personnel available on fire Christmas and New Year. Karen Adams said: “The FBU in quently the service we provide engines as disillusioned staff Trevor French, Devon and Dorset will vigorously campaign and the safety of the public”. have left. 6 FireFighter January/February 2008 andreW parsons/pa photos one a week – will get a reduced NoRtHeRN iRelaND response. The FBU has warned that SHoRtFall iN > For the latest on Lancashire see the public and firefighters will iNveStMeNt Will Working For You, page 17, and on be put at risk by delays of even a Hit StaNDaRDS Merseyside, Station Cat, page 24. few minutes which would allow Twenty-six Northern Ireland small fires to develop into much fire stations are no longer fit larger ones. for purpose and badly needed Peter Taylor, FBU GMC investment in them and the brigade secretary, said: “The emergency fire control room key is reducing the number of is now threatened thanks to a false alarms, not opting for a shortfall in funding, said the much reduced response to all brigade. About £45 million is needed automatic alarms. over the next three years to “Under the new policy maintain standards, but it is automatic alarms will be only scheduled to get £12m. checked out by non-fire-service Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue personnel and some of these are Service (NIFRS) has written likely to be based many, many to Northern Ireland assembly miles from the site, meaning a members over its concerns very long delay before they can about money allocation in the get to the premises. executive’s draft budget. Bill Gillespie, chairman “It is only at that stage – after of the NIFRS board, said the Brigade secretary Tony Smith a long delay – that the Greater rob breMner allocation would “barely said crews were willing to risk Manchester Fire Service says it replace our fire appliances their lives every day to save will respond. All it will take is and equipment, never mind others, “but feel they are being the loss of one medium-sized look towards investment let down by senior managers building and the savings of £2 in fire stations and our 999 and the council. Firefighters million to the fire service will command and control system. across the county are extremely have gone up in smoke.” Undoubtedly, very difficult angry that our employers have decisions will have to be made reneged on their agreement vehicles.” CHeSHiRe in relation to the provision of emergency cover for the people that saw an end to our indus- In Cheshire, firefighters are HaMPSHiRe of Northern Ireland.” trial action in 2006. We are angry at plans to replace their The service may have to angry that our safety is being In Hampshire, the FBU full-size 999 vehicle with two consider removing some jeopardised.” continues to campaign against cheaper, mini-fire engines that wholetime firefighters from the closure of Copnor fire carry fewer firefighters, half the Ballymena, Lisburn, Lurgan, KeNt station in Portsmouth, which, water of a normal fire engine Bangor and Newry, he said. Kent FBU has expressed among other cuts, would leave and shorter ladders. Jim Barbour, FBU Executive concerns over the impact on central Portsmouth without any The brigade originally Council member, Northern firefighter and public safety of fire appliance. The proposals bought the targeted response Ireland, said this was an fire service plans to provide would also see the moving of vehicles (TRVs) to deal with “extremely grave” situation. “Up to 26 fire stations are being height vehicle cover to anywhere an appliance from Redbridge small rubbish fires, but now jeopardised. Lives will be put at in Kent in a 30-minute to St Mary in Southampton; their role is expanding. risk. Our existing control centre benchmark standard. the relocation of Winchester A particular concern is will only cost £2.5 million to It said the content of the plan Fire Station and the redevelop- the planned use of TRVs to upgrade, a drop in the ocean was misleading to members of ment of Cosham Fire Station in deal with property fires. Dave compared to the money that the public who were expected to Portsmouth. Williams, chair of Cheshire is being thrown away on respond by 18 January. The IRMP was out for FBU, said the smaller tanks on Westminster’s totally flawed Harry Sawyer, FBU Secretary consultation until 31 December the TRVs meant there could be project for regional controls. for Kent, said: “We agree that 2007 and Hampshire fire and insufficient water to cool down a “Scottish politicians have a height vehicle should be rescue authority was due to significant blaze. had the good sense to reject regional controls and have available to any part of Kent for make a decision on 13 February. He suspected the long-term chosen instead to invest any purpose – whether that is intention was to use the TRVs to £50 million in improving the for rescues or any other reason gReateR MaNCHeSteR cover urban areas like Chester, resilience of their emergency – within a maximum of 30 In Greater Manchester, the Ellesmere Port and Runcorn fire controls. minutes. FBU has slammed a new policy where most small fires occur. “It is unacceptable that the “But under these misleading that will limit the fire service A sustained FBU campaign people of Northern Ireland plans the proposal would be response to automatic fire forced the service to take all should see the high standards unachievable unless the height alarms. The GMC’s own figures its TRVs off the run for a time, of public safety currently vehicles are crewed 24/7. KFRS show that at least 60 genuine including the Chester-based provided by the fire service has understated the usage and fires on commercial and TRV, although one has now undermined because of these budget-driven cuts.” importance of these frontline business premises – more than begun working out of Nantwich. January/February 2008 FireFighter 7 DealIng WItH tHe Day JoB How do full- time employers approach RDS firefighters on their payroll? Alerter reports supportive: gwyn Williams, rDs firefighter at his workplace at Hotpoint/Indesit, with Will Pritchard, a Health and safety officer, who was his line manager good pra for a long time T here are many challenges for retained to calls. The perception is that they will be “There’s quite a few times I’ve been out all firefighters but one of the hardest is away all day. The reality is that it will be only night and seen fatalities and we come back to undoubtedly the constant tension an hour or so and often will be less. A lot of the station and we talk about it and I haven’t between the day job and the other the resistance is down to the ignorance of gone into work and my boss understands. job of being a firefighter. In the same employers of the benefits of having firefighters “One of the managers has a son who’s way that the families of RDS firefighters are on their staff.” a retained firefighter at another station and alternately proud and understanding – while Yet there are exceptions. 54-year-old he’s been very good with me. Recently the sometimes feeling neglected – employers, too, Gwyn Williams, from Colwyn Bay station, is company have been after me to join their own can he hesitant about employing someone a driver. His day job is making metal drums fire crew, which makes sure everyone is out of who can be whisked away at a moment’s notice for washing machines. He says his employer, the building if the fire alarm goes off.” with no fixed time of return. the multinational company Hotpoint/Indesit, Will Pritchard, a Health and Safety Officer It’s a growing concern for retained fire- has been brilliant with him. for Hotpoint/Indesit, who for a long time fighters as society changes and employers was Gwyn’s line manager, could not be more become less local and more global in their everyone was quite receptive supportive. “We understand we have a respon- priorities. “I came to the service late,” he says. “I was sibility to the community. You never know Pete Preston, Secretary of the FBU National 46 when I joined and I’ve been working for when you’re going to need the fire service, Retained Committee, says employers often Hotpoint for over 22 years now. I talked to so we give the retained firefighters great think that when a retained firefighter goes on them before I started the training and I think respect. It’s about team working. We respect a shout he or she will be gone for hours. that, because they knew me well, they were what Gwyn does and I got more out of him “Overall there’s a general reluctance to fine with it. I went to my immediate boss and at work.” release employees who are retained to respond everyone was quite receptive to the idea. Gwyn, too, acknowledges that being a fire- 8 Firefighter January/February 2008 production store supervisor at Morgan, says: Colin McPherson “We don’t mind about the time – one day it could be you needing help. It’s a community thing. Morgan don’t have to do it, but they do. Everyone appreciates that one day they may have to call on the fire service.” But not everyone is quite so lucky. Geoff Lennon, a facilities officer for an outdoor education centre run by Conwy County Borough Council in Wales, is allowed to go on shouts, but with a totally different modus operandi. Constant and difficult balance He’s been a retained firefighter for over 20 years and worked for the same employer all that time. His experience is slightly different. “It’s a constant and difficult balance, juggling two jobs and a family and my line manager is pretty tolerant. “The council releases employees for fire calls, however it never comes up in conver- sation. I just get on with it. My line manager trusts me to be sensible, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the running of the centre.” Geoff is obviously highly trusted. But within the council there is little or no discus- sion of his role, as he fears others may become resentful of the time he has away from his job. He says everything is fine – but no one talks about what he does. “Some of my colleagues take an interest in what I do but it’s a very CtiCe delicate balance and my role outside my job goes almost unregistered in many ways.” Consequently, he asked Firefighter not to talk to his line manager. Yet, in spite of some positive stories of aware and considerate employers, Pete Preston says the last 30 years have seen a marked decline in the number of employers willing to release fire- fighters to help their community. But he says that if the positive benefits can be explained, employers might be more receptive. fighter has developed him as human being: ago,” he says. “I told them at the interview and “Employers don’t appreciate the advantages “I feel more confident now I’m a firefighter. asked if it was a problem and they said no. of having firefighters on the staff, so we need It’s developed me as a person. My family have It was a major factor for me. I wouldn’t have to communicate with them. Shropshire fire noticed the difference.” moved to Morgan without that attitude. service are putting up statistics on their website “They asked questions about how long I’d revealing the amount of time, on average, a equally harmonious be out on a shout and about the number of retained firefighter is away from their job. This Nick Robinson, 36, based at Malvern station in brush fires we have in the summer here. But is good as it is exploding myths. Worcestershire has had an equally harmonious they’ve got no problems with it. Lots of guys at relationship with his employer, Morgan, the my station get docked time but I don’t. I’m one engage with employers family-owned iconic UK car manufacturer. of the fortunate ones.” “We need to engage with local employers, “It was a factor when I took the job six years Nick’s immediate boss, Stuart Webb, the particularly those with variable shift patterns. Centralisation of labour and its inevitable Good PRACTICE PoINTS insensitivity to local issues and people, is a good communication is key to getting a good employer feature of our age and presents very real chal- Flexibility on both sides is the key to building a good relationship lenges for retained firefighters, the fire service Work colleagues can provide valuable support in getting the message across and the FBU. myths about the number of hours spent on shouts should be demystified “A national campaign – like the Territorial retained firefighters bring unseen benefits to any organisation Army had – to highlight the vital role of the employers need to be made aware of their role in the community RDS firefighter would help raise the public awareness and educate potentially supportive Fire stations’ work in the community can help explain the role of the rDs firefighter full-time employers.” January/February 2008 Firefighter 9 FIre controls Local controls: scotland says yes! The Union has called for Whitehall to urgently re-think plans to close all 46 emergency fire controls in England and move to one control for each region, following an announcement that plans to reduce the number of emergency fire controls in Scotland have been halted S cotland will now get all the benefits of an ‘the view of a Government was to publish for consultation with stake- enhanced digital radio system, interoperability substantial holders in the New Year what it regards as a minimum majority of those between emergency fire controls and other who actually run standard of resilience for emergency control rooms. “We will emergency services, modern data terminals the control rooms want to discuss this with stakeholders and reach a consensus in fire appliances and real time updates of the – councillors, chief on what needs to be done across Scotland to ensure that this exact position of vehicles much cheaper and much faster Fire officers and standard is reached,” he said. than England. In England the regional control project other staff – is that The Scottish Executive is to invest over £50 million in we should stick – FireControl – is now running years late, costs are ten with the status quo. the next three years to equip fire and rescue services with a times the original estimate of £100 million and it is placing this view is also “state of the art” digital incident communications system. enormous burdens on the fire service. shared by the Fire This programme would ensure Scotland has the resilience The decision in Scotland comes close to three and a half Brigades union.’ and flexibility at both a national and a local level to cope scotland’s Justice years after the Scottish Executive published in July 2004 the secretary Kenny with everything from a terror attack or a Stockline, to local- Mott MacDonald report on the review of fire service control macaskill ised flooding and fire prevention visits, added Minister for rooms in Scotland. This recommended closing eight local Community Safety Fergus Ewing. emergency fore control rooms and replacing them with as ‘good government “Good government is about preparing the country as few as one regional control. is also about best we can for the range of threats we face – from climate listening and In announcing the decision in December, Scotland’s Justice trusting those change to terrorism. But good government is also about Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “The view of a substantial closest to the listening and trusting those closest to the frontline – and majority of those who actually run the control rooms – frontline.’ also about making decisions. This issue has been clouded in Councillors, Chief Fire Officers and other staff – is that we minister for uncertainty for too long,” he said. community safety should stick with the status quo. This view is also shared by the Fergus ewing In additional comments to the local press, Mr Ewing, who Fire Brigades Union. Cabinet has therefore agreed with my represents Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, expressed conclusion that we will not be taking any action centrally to ‘the scottish “particular concern” that the lengthy decision process reduce the number of emergency fire control rooms.” government’s caused control staff to “fear for their jobs”, adding: “The staff “However events in recent years – including the Glasgow decision to invest are extremely skilled in what they do. There is also a strong rather than close is Airport incident, the flooding in the Borders and England a welcome one.’ argument about local knowledge, not just of small places and over the summer, and the warnings by the new Chief Keith Brown, an Gaelic names but also an in-depth knowledge of city streets. Constable of Strathclyde about the terrorist threat – have msP for stirling The argument that there was a substantial saving to be made highlighted the requirement for enhanced emergency fire (ochil) from reducing the number of control rooms is not clear.” control room resilience. This is an issue which national and Keith Brown, an MSP for Stirling (Ochil), in welcoming local government and the FBU and other staff representa- the rejection of regional control plans in Scotland, described tives need to consider together.” the plans in England as a “false economy”, adding: Minister MacAskill announced that the Scottish “It is now possible for fire boards and control rooms 10 FireFighter January/February 2008 paul box to move forward and ensure they are delivering the best ‘By keeping our these figures to CLG and the cost is likely to be in the region possible service to people locally. The Scottish Government’s control local we of another £80 million to £100 million nationally. can provide the decision to invest rather than close is a welcome one and I In addition there are also more delays – although not best service to the hope it will win support across the board.” community’ yet announced – because of problems synchronising the The news was welcomed by emergency fire control staff susan Bruce, FireLink and FireControl projects. The Government is now in Scotland. Said Susan Bruce, from Tayside control: “We are tayside control paying rent on some of the RCC buildings that have now all extremely pleased with the news. By keeping our control been completed and handed over and more delay means ‘this was a long local we can provide the best fire and rescue service to the an arduous paying rent on these on top of the cost of existing controls. community in Tayside.” campaign. thanks At this stage, even on the Government’s dodgy figures, Tayside colleague Libby Logan, who is also control staff to the public, there is no chance of FireControl making any savings at all rep for Scotland, said: “We have succeeded in stopping FBu officials and against the money being spent on it. The talk among those members for the closure of our existing control rooms. This was a long involved in the highest levels of the FireLink and FireControl their tremendous and arduous campaign. I’d like to thank the public, FBU support.’ Project is of yet more costs and “reality adjustments”, the officials and firefighter and control staff members for their libby logan, latest projectspeak for delays. tremendous support. This is the best solution for resilience scotland control FBU General secretary Matt Wrack said: “Scotland has in Scotland. With our future secure, we can now go forward rep looked into the abyss and quite rightly stepped back. They and build on our success.” ‘this decision is a will now get a better and more resilient system which is much FBU Scotland regional secretary Ken Ross, described the victory for common cheaper and quicker than that planned for England. It makes Scottish Executive’s decision as a “victory for common sense sense and public a real difference when Government takes the time to engage and public safety”, adding: “Local communities need local safety.’ with frontline staff and the fire service before key decisions Kenny ross, emergency fire control rooms staffed by professionals who are made. Whitehall made poor decisions in the face of over- regional secretary, have experience, technical expertise and local knowledge.” FBu scotland whelming opposition within the fire service at the time.” The decision in Scotland came as it was revealed that The General Secretary blamed Whitehall’s “obsession” with there was even greater confusion over what the Government ‘scotland has a regionalised structure in England for “bleeding the fire knows about the spiralling costs of England’s FireControl looked into the service dry of money and personnel” and said FireControl abyss and quite Project. Answering a parliamentary question on 11 rightly stepped was an example of public money being wasted on another December, fire minister Parmjit Dhanda said fire authori- back.’ IT project of “dubious benefit” and “which diverts money ties had not produced “meaningful estimates” of what are matt Wrack, from frontline services.” called “convergence costs”. general secretary He added: “Scotland has understood those issues, This is the technical name for some of the critical work Whitehall has not. It is not technology and buildings which involved in paving the way to regional controls and which is gives us the resilience to deal with major incidents. It is not included in the business case. “Meaningful” or not, many professional fire crews and emergency control staff which fire authorities have told Firefighter that they have provided give us that strength and we have never failed the public.” January/February 2008 FireFighter 11 The fight goes on the union has won an important legal victory in its battle for justice for firefighter pensions, but continues to campaign on its key demand for the government to change its highly detrimental guidance on ill-health pensions Firefighters – here at a recent warehouse fire – may be forced to question the risks they take because of the change in ill-health pensions guidance I n an important victory in the campaign the requirements of the pension scheme. for Justice for Firefighter Pensions, an The lawyers for the CLG and the Board of FBU-backed judicial review of the move Referees conceded the FBU’s case on the first to terminate the ill-health pension of point, fully vindicating the stance taken by the three London firefighters has resulted three members and the FBU on this issue and in a decision that should see their pensions showing that the stance taken on this issue by restored. The legal case, launched in the the CLG, the Board of Referees and LFEPA autumn, was based broadly around three the process breached natural justice; that the was incorrect. “But,” warns FBU General issues: That the three had not been told in Board of Referees exceeded their powers in Secretary Matt Wrack, “this does not end advance that their appeal hearings would considering an issue which was not submitted the case. Even the three members concerned include an issue that could result in their to them; that the guidance from CLG in may still face the same issue again depending pensions being stopped and that therefore relation to ill-health pensions does not reflect upon other decisions. Most importantly, the 12 FireFighter January/February 2008 JustIce For FIreFIgHter PensIons guidance issued by CLG remains in place and and that if you are injured on duty, and if there support and a number have written back daniel berehulak/ getty iMages this is the fundamental problem.” wasn’t work for you to do, then you should expressing concern at the CLG guidance And nobody knows this better than Mark get a pension. But the decision wasn’t his any and broad support for the stance taken by Padgett, a retained duty system (RDS) fire- more. He said his hands were tied because of the Union. Likewise, a number of fire and fighter at Edwinstowe fire station, North the new Government guidance on ill-health rescue service politicians have raised their Nottinghamshire. Mark was assaulted at pensions.” concerns with CLG and with the Minister, an incident by a member of the public that Says General Secretary Matt Wrack: “Our John Healey. resulted in him losing his main employment, message is clear: those who work in the fire In parallel with the political campaign, and that now looks set to lose him his fire service are expected to attend incidents other branches have been meeting across the service job and ill-health pension. workers would consider a hazard. It defies country to consider other forms of pressure Nottinghamshire fire and rescue service belief that fire crews will be ordered into a that can be brought to bear and there is a has indicated to Mark that he is likely to be fire with the knowledge that if they are badly growing sense among FBU members that sacked from the Service after a medical said injured in doing so they will be sacked.” national strike action may be necessary. he was too disabled to continue working as “RDS firefighters also face the loss of their In Hertfordshire, for example, firefighters a firefighter and because it couldn’t find him primary employment if injured at fire service say that they will take industrial action should another role to perform. Mark, who suffered incidents. They would also lose out on their any Herts firefighter have their ill-health a serious shoulder injury, was also told that entitlement to be paid illness and injury awards pension benefits removed. And this amid he would not receive the pension to which he in line with wholetime firefighters. It is unac- shortages of frontline staff that they believe was entitled because in September 2006, the ceptable to treat any FBU member in this way will mean they are more likely to get injured. Government suddenly issued new guidance. irrespective of duty system, rank or role.” Herts FBU Secretary Tony Smith says: “We Says Mark: The Union has written to and met with are angry that if we get injured our employers “After ten years service, and after being CLG officials and directly with Ministers. will force us to leave the Service without a injured because I was attacked on duty, the At these meetings the FBU has outlined our pension. This job is becoming increasingly brigade is going to sack me. What kind of position and expressed the anger and disgust dangerous and the number of serious inci- message does that send to other RDS fire- that the effective end of ill-health pensions dents we attend is on the increase. Last year, fighters? We do a good job and we are the fire in the Service has provoked among FBU our employers said they would work with us service in many areas. Employers are strug- members. The Union’s Parliamentary Group to improve the Service but their words are gling to find enough RDS firefighters already. also met with Fire Minister Parmjit Dhanda ringing hollow. Instead they continue to erode “Then they say if you get injured on duty and raised our concerns. the frontline emergency response service we because of an accident or deliberate acts of Minister John Healey MP has written back can offer to the public and now it seems that violence against us – and we all know attacks to General Secretary Matt Wrack saying he has they will not look after us if we get injured in on fire crews are now a sad fact of life – you the line of duty.” will lose your job. Who’s going to join the TakE a mInUTE To PRoTECT yoURSELF In Norfolk, meanwhile, the FBU has said Service as a RDS firefighter if that’s the treat- let your mP know just how angry you are FBU members in the brigade may be forced to ment you’re going to get. ” about the sudden change in the guidance question the risks they take in light of the new “As a result of the injury sustained while in september 2006. let your mP know you Government guidance on ill-health pensions. on duty, I’m already on light duties, earning want the 2006 guidance returned to the Norfolk FBU chair Peter Graves, said: the station average – a pay cut. The injury also original guidance set out in 2004. go to the “It is highly regarded that firefighters will FBu website – www.fbu.org.uk – click on meant I lost my full-time employment down push themselves to the limits to save a life the Justice for Firefighters or lobby your the pit. And then the brigade tell me they’re mP links and email your mP. there is a whether it is at a fire or at a road traffic colli- going to leave me without a penny. standard letter that you can use if you wish sion. Unfortunately we are now being forced “I and many of my colleagues say we don’t that asks your mP to make representations to question our actions before committing do it for the money. We love the job, protecting to John Healey. It contains a briefing on the ourselves into what could be a harmful or our local community. But of course at the end issue. For further information visit the FBu dangerous environment.” of the day, the money we earn as retained fire- website. FBU Norfolk has already met with chief fighters does help pay our bills. fire officer Richard Elliott to raise its concerns, “I have a wife and an 8-year old son. I have but believes his hands are tied by the govern- a mortgage. The loss of my income will be a It is unacceptable to treat ment guidelines. massive blow. Sometimes I can’t see the light any FBU member in this Officers are also considering the impli- at the end of the tunnel. It’s not right.” cations of the Government guidance on ill- Mark says the whole station has been in a way irrespective of duty health pensions. Says FBU Assistant General state of shock since the brigade informed him Secretary Andy Dark: he’d be left without a job or a pension. system, rank or role “With the revised CLG guidance the “My watch manager still can’t believe it. hazard remains the same, but the risk has just He is devastated. He feels he’s lied to me and “asked for an examination to be made of the increased. The risk now is of no job and no all of us on the station. He told us that even if current arrangements, including the implica- pension. we didn’t pay into a pension, we were covered tions for Firefighters and employers. This will, “Just how reasonable is it for officers to if we were injured. We’d be looked after. Of of course, take into account the points that the be expected to ask someone to take a risk, course he’s not to blame. He told us that in FBU have made”. the outcome of which may cost them their good faith. That was the situation until the The Union is urging all FBU members income, their job, their home, their family? Government changed its guidance on ill- to ensure that this examination reaches the Just how reasonable is it for a fire and rescue health pensions.” right conclusion by writing to their MPs to authority to expect its personnel to do this? The chief fire officer visited Mark’s fire put pressure on the Government to amend its “And just how reasonable is it for the fire station and said if he could do something guidance on ill-health pensions (see above). and rescue authority to expect officers to about it, he would. “He said he couldn’t find Since the launch of this campaign, the instruct personnel to expose themselves to alternative jobs for people injured on duty Union has written to every CFO seeking that risk?” January/February 2008 FireFighter 13 rDs PensIons case Equality battle cont The FBU-backed case for equal treatment returned to the Employment Tribunal as the employers continued to bankroll the legal argument that supports RDS firefighters’ second-class status T he FBU’s seven-year battle station commanders at the test case in the courts to end discrimi- stations, Ashford, Marden, Bracknell nation against firefighters and Wokingham. Evidence was also working the retained duty presented by FBU officials Mr Lincoln system (RDS) continues after Ball and Mr Harry Sawyer and also by an Employment Tribunal hearing took individual RDS and wholetime fire- place in Croydon, South London, in fighters. November. In their submission to the tribunal, The move follows a landmark legal the CLG and employers didn’t dispute judgment by the House of Lords on 1 that regardless of duty system fire- March 2006 in favour of the Union. fighters do “essentially the same work The tribunal originally considered on the fire ground” and that this activity 12 test cases from a total of 12,000 in was “very important”. But, pointing to 2000 on behalf of RDS firefighters community fire safety work, argued across the UK. Any judgment applies that “the differences in the work the to all 12,000 FBU RDS members in retained and whole-time fire-fighters all fire brigades in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. ‘It is hypocritical The tribunal’s purpose was to deter- mine whether RDS firefighters do the for employers same or broadly similar work as their to complain of a whole-time colleagues and whether the employers and the Secretary of shortage of RDS State are able to justify the difference in treatment of RDS firefighters in firefighters while relation to the exclusion from access to denying them the FPS, additional pay for additional responsibilities and sick pay. employment rights that The Union, represented by Robin would help tackle this’ Allen QC and Martin Seaward at the tribunal, and by Thompsons, has been were actually engaged in [was] of such battling this case against the employers importance to prevent their work being and the Government for seven years. regarded overall as the same or broadly The national fire service employers similar.” are financing the legal defence by Royal Says Richard Ar thur, f rom Berkshire and Kent fire brigades, and Thompsons Solicitors: backing their argument that RDS fire- “The central issue is whether, as at fighters don’t do the same or broadly December 2000 when the Tribunal similar work to their wholetime work claims were lodged, the work of colleagues, supporting the continued retained and wholetime firefighters discrimination between RDS and was the same or broadly similar. wholetime. As co-defendant in the “Nobody is denying the impor- case, the department for Communities tance of community fire safety and fire and Local Government is also opposing prevention work. But the fact of the equal treatment of RDS firefighters. matter is that, in the test brigades and Over four days, the Union’s legal nationwide, CFS was in its infancy in team presented further evidence to 2000, and did not form a major part getty iMages demand equal treatment for RDS of the working time of whole-time or firefighters on pensions and sick pay. retained fire-fighters. Fire Certificate Evidence was called from the four and inspection work, certainly in the 14 FireFighter January/February 2008 inues in the courts test brigades, was done by specialist officers and fire safety teams, not by in the courts. “It is frankly hypocritical for regular wholetime firefighters. employers to complain of a shortage “Any difference between the work of retained firefighters when they are of wholetime and retained firefighters denying them the very employment was not of sufficient significance to rights that would help tackle this short- undermine the inevitable conclusion fall. that their work was the same or broadly “The FBU is the only organisation similar.” that has been working for equal treat- Secretary to the National Retained ment for RDS firefighters. We have Committee, Pete Preston, who been fighting this case for seven years attended the Employment Tribunal in and we will continue to fight for as long November, said: as it takes to achieve justice for RDS “All those who gave evidence – firefighters.” from frontline firefighters to senior FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack managers - did extremely well in what added: “It is absolutely disgraceful that is a highly complex legal case. They still today thousands of RDS firefighters faced tough cross-examination. But should be facing discrimination. they were meticulously prepared and “This has no place in the modern the quality of evidence provided was fire service and the FBU intends to very high. bring it to an end. The FBU is confident “Professional RDS firefighters are we have a strong legal case and we are the backbone of the fire and rescue determined to win.” service in many parts of the country. There was insufficient time before Yet employers continue to support the Employment Tribunal for closing their second class status. This legal case submissions to be heard and so is about changing that.” detailed witness submissions are now Sean Starbuck, national officer being produced by the union’s legal responsible for RDS firefighters, said: team and the Tribunal will hear those “Whatever employers say in public, final submissions in January. they are bankrolling old-fashioned A decision from the Employment discrimination against RDS firefighters Tribunal is expected in the Spring. TImELInE December 2000 Claims launched in the wake of the introduction of the Part Time Workers Regulations that calls for equal treatment for part-time workers. November 2001 Employment Tribunal (ET) hears over nine days FBU-backed test case for equal pension and sick pay rights for firefighters working the retained duty system. July 2002 ET dismisses this claim; FBU decides to appeal. July 2004 Court of Appeal accepts the employers’ arguments that RDS firefighters did not do the same or broadly similar work and rejected the appeal. It found that wholetime firefighters had “measurable additional job functions” including education and preventative work. FBU decides to appeal to the highest national legal authority – the House of Lords. March 2006 Law Lords uphold the appeal brought by the FBU. The Law Lords said that retained and wholetime firefighters are employed on the same “type of contract”. They ruled that the Employment Tribunal (ET) which originally rejected the FBU’s case had focussed too much on differences rather than similarities between wholetime and RDS duty contracts. Case sent back to ET. November 2007 ET five day hearing takes into account the House of Lords ruling and, following concerns from the claimants about the accuracy of some key evidence heard by original ET (principally around the extent of RDS firefighters’ involvement on Community Fire Safety), considers this fresh evidence and decides whether to make additional or different findings from that original ET. Further evidence to be submitted and considered in the following months. Spring 2008 ET ruling expected. January/February 2008 FireFighter 15 PeoPle whaT DoES a hEaD oF FIRE ConTRoL Do? Bob Smith, Avon’s Head of Fire Control, runs a control room with 30 staff working four shifts who help people who can be distressed and panicking. So his views on government plans to replace 46 local centres with nine regional ones are well worth listening to b ob Smith has been in the fire knows first-hand the stresses and satisfac- service for 36 years – the last 20 as tions it can bring. Control staff may be on Head of Fire Control at Avon Fire the end of the phone rather than out on an and Rescue. It’s a role he combines appliance dousing down flames, but in many with heading up communica- ways, they are very much in the frontline. tions at Avon. So he was an obvious choice They are dealing with people who may well for Firefighter to interview to spread a few be panicky and distressed. The job is to insights about the crucial role control plays “extract crucial information from the caller in serving the public and in the shortest possible time,” minimising loss of life and Control Bob says. And, when every property. second can count, offering He is also well placed to staff taking callers reassurance, support take a strategic view, as he is and calm professionalism. Avon’s co-ordinator for two emergency calls “Control staff have to make national systems – Firelink sure they get the correct radio and the Government’s have to be calm address and send out the controversial plans for right appliances when people regional control centres. He’s and reassuring ring in with emergencies. “People can be understandably distressed, also been an FBU member Sometimes they can be very so control staff taking emergency calls since he joined the service. distressed. have to be calm and reassuring. We need to As head of control, Bob is in charge of the “Obviously it’s important that we not only pinpoint exactly where the fire is.” day-to-day running of a control room where listen, but also lead the caller to get down Then there are the “misrouted ”calls 30 staff members, spread over four shifts, to the essentials – what’s on fire, where it is which can come from as far away as provide the first contact to members of the and making sure we don’t miss important Manchester or Liverpool. “We always take public who ring for help. information such as that there is someone in the call. The public just wants to get through It’s a job he did himself in the past – so he a wheelchair on the first floor. and we don’t want them to put the phone down if they are not talking to their local station. People sometimes think they are ringing their local fire station. “The thing is to get the information, not reply: ‘No, it’s control,’ if they ask if it’s the fire station, or tell them they are hundreds of miles away. It’s a case of just getting the details as quickly and accurately as possible and passing them on.” At Avon, as in most other fire and rescue services, control shifts are matched to frontline firefighter shifts, which, says Bob, helps build rapport. “We are another station to the people on the ground. We don’t just take the emergency calls and turn out appli- ances. We receive messages, get help from other services – whatever is needed at the incident ground. “Firefighters know there’s a face and a name to colleagues in control, which is what we’ve tried to achieve over the years at Avon. 16 FireFighter January/February 2008 working For you pictures: paul box Steve HaRMaN Brigade Secretary lancashire Attacks on crewing levels, attacks on TB 1/97 BA safe operating procedures, attacks on mobilising control jobs, attacks on officer cover, proposals to remove RDS front line appliances, increased response times for special appliances, loss of STC trainer posts, attempts to undermine the ‘Grey Book’ overtime rate: these are just some of the issues brigade officials have faced since the so-called modernisation process began. It did not take long to realise that the IRMP was budget-driven to implement cuts. We realised early on that on occasion, in order to achieve its objectives, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) regarded the Bob Smith in the consultation process as a game of chess. Avon control room This year’s IRMP has been no exception. In one section of a consultation It works well.” their heads for four years now. They know questionnaire entitled “Matching emergency Avon is not plagued by recruitment and what’s planned and it has to be business as cover to varying risk” it stated: “From long retention problems – there’s a recruit school usual. It has helped that our fire authority experience, LFRS knows that the risk of fires on at the moment, but only because long- chair Terry Walker and chief fire officer occurring and the number of emergency calls we receive varies substantially at standing staff have retired. Kevin Pearson have told control staff that different times of the day and night. Courses for fire control recruits run if they don’t want to move they will be Nonetheless, despite risk levels and demand alongside firefighter courses, and where redeployed within the fire authority.” varying, we have historically provided the possible, recruits attend courses which While there is always room for improve- same number of fire engines over each encompass both control and firefighter ment, when major incidents have hit Avon 24-hour period. We are now considering disciplines. and neighbouring brigade changing how we match our resources, i.e. For instance, control operators have an hour or The planned shift control centres coped very well. For example, when fire engines, more closely to these varying risk and demand levels.” so on the role of the pump has had an effect floods hit Gloucestershire in Then it asked: “Taking into account the paragraph above, do you agree or disagree operator during training “so July, Avon control doubled they can hear how noisy it on morale. The the number of staff on duty that LFRS should more effectively match the resources (fire appliances) we provide to can get when we are trying to take calls from stricken to communicate with staff have been areas and “ passed them varying levels of risk and demand?” In other words: “Because we have based firefighters in the midst of back” to Gloucestershire fire dealing with an incident.” tremendous and rescue authority. the risk at night solely on the probability and have not considered the severity, would The plan to replace 46 As an experienced and you agree to the removal of fire engines at local centres with nine regional ones will committed professional, Bob Smith says night when the majority of people are asleep mean calls currently dealt with by Avon people join the fire service to protect the in their beds?” Surreally, LFRS has stated will be dealt with at the newly built RCC in public and save lives. Whether nine RCCs that they have made no such proposal. Taunton, earmarked to serve the whole of will be more “resilient” than the 46 local As you would expect, this has been vigorously opposed by the FBU and at this the South West. Calls taken by Avon staff are centres now serving the public, as the time, the fire authority has stated it will only scheduled to transfer there from May 2010 – government maintains, is a moot point, he consider this issue as part of its 2009 Fire though many believe this timetable will slip. says. “But whatever the future brings,” Bob Cover Review. It’s worth noting that – as The planned shift has, says, Bob, had adds, “it should always be to improve the happened in 2006 when ten RDS appliances an impact on morale. “The staff have been fire and rescue service for the public.” The were under threat – there has been no tremendous. They’ve had this hanging over question is, will RCCs achieve this? response from the RFU. January/February 2008 FireFighter 17 your WelFare HealtH new year, new start Ten ways to get that feel good factor ways to meditate – choose one that suits you. sinuses, tones the stomach and back mus- no PaIn, Just gaIn There is no equipment necessary. All you need cles and encourages the body to produce the to do is find a bit of free time and a reasonably feel-good hormones – endorphins – as well 1 Do something new: take up a new hobby or sport or dedicate some time to learning comfortable place to sit. as reducing stress. You might want to sound- proof your bathroom walls first though. a language perhaps (see no. 7). This is good for relaxing and beating stress. 4 Do something on a regular basis that you really enjoy – give yourself some- thing to look forward to – a game of golf, 8 If you have a few spare hours a week, how about doing some ‘volunteering’. It 2 Make a conscious decision to eat healthier: have some breakfast; you should always try and eat something within an hour of going out to see a film or play. It might just be getting round the table once a week for a relaxed meal with your family or friends. can, according to American research, boost your immune system, help you sleep better and make you less likely to become depressed waking up to kick start your metabolism. Eat a and anxious. There are endless ways to donate little less of the things you know aren’t so good for you and eat a little more of the things you know are beneficial to your health. You’ll feel 5 Socialise – stop making excuses and free up a bit of time in the week to get in contact with friends. There’s nothing like a some free time – check the websites of organi- sations, charity bodies etc in your area. more energetic for it and maybe lose a couple of pounds too – and with no silly diet fads or calculating calorie intake. No pain! chat and you may even get round to making that date to meet up! Socialising is not only good for your health; it can even make you 9 Give yourself a few ‘dry’ days a week – making weekends and Wednesdays your allocated drinking days. You’ll never be more live longer, according to some studies. than a couple of days away from a chilled 3 Spend 10 minutes a day doing some kind of relaxing activity even if it is only deep breathing to lower stress levels and help 6 Do a bit of brain training every day, it can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Try glass of sauvignon blanc or a bottle of your favourite brew and it will probably taste all the nicer for it. you unwind. Try a ‘hatha’ yoga deep breathing crossword puzzles (the one in Firefighter technique – particularly beneficial after a hard day’s (or night’s) work to relax the mind and body and help you get off to sleep (it also helps magazine is only for real aficionados!) or a su doku puzzle? There are plenty of electronic games that keep your grey matter agile, with 10 Lastly, de-clutter. There is nothing quite like starting the New Year having given the shed, loft, spare room, tone the stomach muscles). some even giving you a ‘brain age’, depending wardrobe, desk – whatever – a good clear Alternatively you could try meditation: on your results (it can be quite satisfying to see out. You might find ‘that’ long lost whatever new research proves that meditation reduces it getting younger). or something worth selling on eBay. And stress, blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety if not, the best thing is you will have freed and increases mental abilities, focus, concen- tration and longevity. There are many different 7 Try singing. It is not only aerobic – working the lungs and heart, it clears up space and feel so much better for having made the effort. fiona hanson/pa photos Fauja singh celebrated his 93rd birthday as he ran the london marathon for the fifth time in 2004. He put his success down to a diet of ginger, curries and regular meditation FBu FRee 18 FireFighter Month 2006 CoNFiDeNtial StReSS & SuPPoRt HelPliNe 0800 783 4778 your WelFare you anD tHe laW management dictat The Health and Safety Executive advises that q when our management wants to introduce new policies they first get approval asbestos in good condition should be left where it is and be from the fire authority so that regularly monitored. when our FBU officials speak The area should be to the brigade they are told: clearly marked and “It’s now policy and can’t be anyone likely to go changed”. I believe that our near it should be contracts of employment may warned. have been changed like this, So if the asbestos without agreement. Is this at the station is legal? not damaged, then the response of the a It is important to under- stand the distinction between contractual and employer may not be inappropriate. If, non-contractual matters. however, it is damaged, There will be occasions when it is not enough to ban policies are introduced by people from the area. management relating to issues, The FBU safety rep such as health and safety, should discuss with which the fire authority may management what the have statutory authority to inspections have said implement without the agree- about the condition of the ment of members. asbestos and whether the In these cases, the scope for response has been appro- negotiation by FBU officials priate and complies with the would be more limited although regulations. under the Grey Book there Because increasing numbers would still be a requirement of firefighters and former to consult members. It would firefighters are developing satoshi kaMbayashi not be acceptable for the fire asbestos-related conditions, the authority to change such policies without consultation. Legal beagle FBU advises any member or retired member who thinks they have been exposed to asbestos The position with issues such as members’ pay and hours to join the FBU asbestos register, is different. Policies relating Answers to some frequently asked legal whether or not they have been to such issues are probably questions that members put to the FBU diagnosed with any condition. contractual and, therefore, This is a register of details would require the member’s of where and when individuals agreement to implement. They will need to obtain medical place a duty on anyone with believe they were exposed. It reports and to contact any wit- responsibility for the repair and can be of invaluable assistance nesses to the accident. There is maintenance of non-domestic when pursuing compensation on duty injury in any case a three-year time premises to manage any asbestos claims on behalf of those who limit, from the date of your acci- have developed asbestos related q I was injured at an operational incident where I was not at fault. Am I entitled dent, for claiming. in the building. Regulation 4 deals with workplaces. It places on conditions. To enter your details on the register, call 0808 100 6061 and to any financial compensation? asbestos at work employers a duty to monitor ask for a form. Alternatively visit asbestos and to keep records. a If you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence then you may be entitled to q despite being highlighted in a number of health and It is not negligent to have asbestos in a building. Many the FBU website (www.fbu.org. uk) and go to the ‘Workplace’ section (Officials forms) to fill safety inspections there is still work places, homes and public compensation. It is important a large amount of asbestos in one in on-line or to get hold of that you seek legal advice as places still contain asbestos. As a form to print and send to our my workplace. My employer’s long as it is in good condition so soon as possible through the solution is to simply ban solicitors Thompsons. FBU’s free legal assistance that fibres will not be released access to these areas (which scheme. Our lawyers will assess into the atmosphere, it should includes the pole drops). your claim. If it is considered not present a hazard. > Write in with your legal problem Is this a suitable response to be valid they will start the Damaged asbestos, or to email@example.com and those or should the asbestos be process of claiming damages asbestos sited somewhere that it of widest relevance to FBU members completely removed? on your behalf. The sooner that is in danger of being damaged, in the workplace will be selected and they can do this the better as “evidence” can quickly go cold. a The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 by maintenance work or vandalism for example, is a risk. answered in future editions. With thanks to Thompsons solicitors. FBu FReePHoNe legal aDviCe liNe 0808 100 6061 January/February 2008 FireFighter 19 Day oFF me anD my golF ‘there’s a great sense of camaraderie on the course’ Kenny Hankinson is one of the many keen golfers in Scotland’s fire brigades – thanks to the game’s team ethos, not to mention a keen competitive spirit G olf is big in the Scotland’s fire and rescue serv- beyond the region, which has encouraged ices, and nowhere more so than Strathclyde more people to join. brigade. Kenny, 41, caught the golfing bug at “Meeting firefighters from all over the 11 and has been an active member of the golf country and other parts of the UK gives a section for the past seven years. different perspective. There’s a social side – a Members enjoy playing at many highly rated golf few rounds and a few beers are a good way of courses and the season is studded with competitions – unwinding. from the Scottish singles, to the Four Nations and the “Being able to discuss things with colleagues prestigious Sheriff ’s Cup. from Devon to Norfolk or wherever gives you a In this event, after qualifying rounds across the UK, chance to get to know what’s happening in different golfing firefighters from England, Scotland, Wales and fire and rescue services. Northern Ireland compete over two days in teams of “There’s a great sense of camaraderie on the course four. There’s a day of doubles and afterwards. People are followed by individual rounds. ‘Being able to discuss things very welcoming. And it’s a “Every score counts,” says great way to relax.” Kenny, who knows firsthand with colleagues from Devon But alongside the relax- how this can really matter when ation, the adrenalin rush can you’re out there on the fairway. to Norfolk or wherever gives also be very much part of the “The Sheriff ’s rotates between game. Take last summer’s fire and rescue sections. In 2007, you a chance to get to know Sheriff ’s Cup – with the added Strathclyde hosted the contest at what’s happening in different edge, for Strathclyde Fire and Cawder golf course – and won it Rescue Section, of playing on for the first time since 1983.” fire and rescue services’ home turf. Kenny was in the Then, of course, there’s the winning team – and admits to fiercely contested annual Scotland versus England inter- feeling rather pressured as he played in the last round of national, which Kenny has played in a good few times. the contest. “I knew we were leading and I had to put in a half £150 a round decent performance to win. Golf is normally about The shift system is excellent for golfers, says Kenny, who has been known to have the odd round with station colleagues. “During the summer, golf courses tend to be quieter midweek and it’s far easier to get tee-off times.” His local club – Troon Welbeck – is just down the road from exclusive Royal Troon, where a round can cost £150 for those who can get to play. But Kenny can play two rounds on the championship course for £18 in an annual tourna- ment for local amateurs who play off a handicap of less than five. So what is it about golf and firefighters? It obviously pays to be a team player in contests that don’t just focus on individual scores, which, says Kenny fits in with how firefighters approach the job. “We are obviously used to sticking together at work. In Strathclyde section, we try and get out to higher-rated golf courses around and 20 FireFighter January/February 2008 individual performance, but the Sheriff ’s Cup and the Four Nations are more like the fire service where you work as a team. So when you’re representing Strathclyde or Scotland, you want to do well for your colleagues, specially if it’s looking good and you’re the last to play.” We ended up winning Kenny was the last of his team to play that day – and his three colleagues had already put in good scores. The adrenalin was pumping and he knew the cup was within the team’s grasp. “I played the first nine holes quite well, then got it into my head that I had to be really careful, got quite defensive and my game started to go downhill. Fortunately, I managed to turn it round and we ended up winning by six shots.” Kenny enjoys team events. “When you’re repre- senting Strathclyde or Scotland you kind of want to do well for your colleagues – especially if they’ve played well. You don’t want to let them down. In competitions, all teams are trying their utmost to win. There’s a good bit of banter out there, and it really matters – especially when we’re trying to beat the auld enemy. I’m sure the English team feel the same about beating us.” But it’s all very civilised, of course. Kenny could be poised to take over as secre- pictures: alan Wylie Kenny practising at tary of the Strathclyde golf section now longstanding troon Welbeck KeNNY HaNKiNSoN secretary Willy Hotchkiss, who has done much to build Kenny Hankinson is station commander up the club, has retired from the service. Retired and at Barrhead fire station on the outskirts of retained members are keen section members. There are glasgow. He plays off a handicap of two, no women members – but Kenny says they would be would like to get down to scratch and is a “most welcome”. keen member of the flourishing strathclyde “It would be good to have a European champion- Fire and rescue golf section. ship and if we could expand the four nations contest to include the Republic of Ireland. There are some great golf courses over there …” January/February 2008 FireFighter 21 Puzzles quick Crossword 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Prize quiz Win a ‘Romantic getaway’ in 14 15 16 a luxury 4* hotel 17 18 Enter our prize quiz and it could be yours 19 20 21 22 This issue the theme is ‘last year’s news’ 1 . What over-budget stadium nick potts/pa photos 23 24 which recently hosted the embarrassing departure of England from the European 25 26 Champions League was completed and opened in March 2007? 2 . In June 2007 what long aCRoSS 7, 10 24 of TUC (7, 6) 8 24 of RMT (3,4) DoWN 1 Big wave; crusher of cars (7) 2 Even more stuck-up! (8) 3 anticipated hand-over took place at 10 Downing St? 10 See 7 3 More just, or lighter-haired (6) 3 . Name the starMax/eMpics entertainMent/pa photos 11 Approaching from opposite 4 Weaver of spells – with an Welsh boxer who won direction (8) apprentice? (8) the WBO/WBA/WBC 12 Type of food shop, in short (4) 5 Shrimps, cooked in super-middleweight title 13 Late US singer-songwriter of breadcrumbs (6) bout at the Millennium Only The Lonely etc (3,7) 6 US fast-food favourite: Stadium in Cardiff in 14 Privileged class of ‘nobility’ (11) sausage, cooked in batter, served on a stick (4,3) November 2007? 19 Electrical conductors used to make contact, used in medicine, 9 Joint 24 of Unite (4,7) 4 . Name the rich, famous 6 plating, torture etc (10) 15 Mark, 24 of PCS (8) musician whose 22 Bird - on a chess board? (4) 16 Material covering windows (8) acrimonious divorce 23 Male voice between bass and 17 Shabby, grubby public proceedings filled the tenor (8) building, especially cinema tabloids for much of 2007? 24 The one at the front (6) (4,3) 18 Former kingdom now in Czech 5 . In November 2007 in a landslide 25 Find unpleasant (7) Republic, synonymous with victory what country has gone from 26 Dave, 24 of Unison (7) unconventional lifestyle (7) a long term right wing ap/pa photos 20 Not warm (6) government to a Labour 21 Wage, usually paid monthly (6) government? 6 . What British thespian won best leading actress 5 in the 2007 Bafta awards for her role in ‘The Queen’? answers to november/ december quiz HoW to eNteR 1. billy bob To win the ‘Romantic Getaway’ please send your thornton 2. a partridge in a answers to the Prize Quiz by 29 February 2008 pear tree 3. palestine on a postcard to: Prize Competition (January/ 4. 24 February 2008), FBU Head Office, Bradley House, 5. Winter solstice Solution to 6. the Queen 68 Coombe Road, Kingston upon Thames, November/ Surrey, KT2 7AE. Include your name, address and Winner of the December october 2007 quiz membership number. The winner will be selected crossword was Martin tuckey of poole at random from all correct entries. 22 FireFighter January/February 2008 gossIP … brings you the news they don’t want you to hear station chimp and coordinated contribution by Whitehall million shortfall was set aside as councillors Hope you didn’t miss the clever departments but, like a small child were tempted by proposals for allowance chimps on TV counting up clamouring for the attention of its bigger rises that would cost £247,000. randomly placed numbers in classmates, the department does not have the last recommendation was to increase their proper order. In fact they the influence to make this happen.” councillors’ allowances by 140%. The chair of can finish the test much faster than humans. You’ve guessed it, it’s CLoG. And what did the fire authority’s allowance would go up So I have now recruited Station Chimp they have to say in response. Along the lines from £15,186 to £33,066 and massive rises all to assist the civil servants in Communities of everyone else is wrong and they are right. round for councillors with “special responsi- and Local Government (CLoG) with their They found the comments “baffling” and bility”, although firefighting isn’t one of them. counting up. Station Chimp has been said: “We simply do not recognise many of Allowance rises in Merseyside used to looking at the figures for FireControl. the suggestions in the report.” Sure. All’s well be tied to the general pay rise within the He says the claimed £20 million ‘savings’ on the Magic Planet of CLoG, pass the happy fire service. Is it only in McGuirkeyside on annual operating costs won’t start to pills and let me see the FireControl project. that such proposals for 140% rises would happen – if they ever do – until 2015 at the see the light of day? They have been binned earliest. The chimp says this is called “steady Delays abolished for the time being. The next move will be state operating conditions”. proposals for even more cuts in fire cover in But as the leases for the regional control And back on the Magic Planet of McGuirkeyside. buildings run out any time between 2026 CLoG they have abolished delays in and 2031 the savings can only be achieved the FireLink and FireControl swindler for 11-16 years.. DCLOG are also massaging Projects. The great plans are doing the ‘savings’ so they don’t have to deduct the splendidly well with no more delays on I’ve no time for showboating annual losses in the years before 2015. either of these linked projects (pass more arrogant swindlers who steal even on the savings figures most happy pills, the effect is fading). millions of pounds of other people’s favourable to clog, the £1 billion-plus not meeting deadlines and having to build money. Conrad Black’s Sunday Firecontrol Project cannot possibly pay for in further delays are now being called “realism Telegraph was obsessed with attacking the itself until at least 2065. adjustments”, according to several people Union throughout the pay dispute. That is 34 years after the last lease runs close to the projects. You may think I’m There is a difference between any group out. If the Station Chimp can spot that is kidding, but sadly, no. of workers having a legitimate and legal pay impossible for the project to make savings Realism adjustments – delays – are trying claim and stealing £3 million. on the money invested, why can’t the to inject some realism into both projects That’s what the Sunday Telegraph’s department? without admitting that some dates are slipping crooked, swindling owner – who still The clever chimp has also spotted that back even further. It’s what happens when clings to the title of Lord Black has been the longer the delays the more money the you launch projects without a heavy dose of convicted of. consultants make. Won’t that be a surprise. realism in timing and costs at the very start. He joins the ranks of other arrogant The Station Cat, along with others, knew showboating media swindlers like Bob ministry of mayhem all along that both projects on their own are Maxwell who robbed the company pension very, very ambitious. Tie the two projects fund and jumped off his yacht. Which government department is together – and demand detailed synchroni- Black will do six and a half years. the “not up to the job” of managing the sation – and greater risk is added to both of crooked hypocrite deserves more. £670 million Thames Gateway them in terms of delays and extra costs. Development, according to the When the department gets back from Public Accounts Committee (PAC)? Which its trip to the Magic Planet expect the department was condemned for its “woeful announcement of more delays. Sorry, handling of this critical project” by Lib Dem “realism adjustments”. MP Tom Brake? Any idea? How about this from Tom mcguirkeyside Brake again: “Ministers have broken all the basic project management rules: they do In McGuirkeyside the cycle of not know how much it will cost, whether councillors backing huge pay it represents value for money or who is rises for top managers and then responsible for what.” top managers tabling papers And this truly dreadful department is backing massive increases in allowances for treated with near contempt in Whitehall councillors gathers apace. * if you have any snippets you think Station and goes ignored says Mr Brake: “Crucial Memories of the £6 million funding gap Cat should get his sharp claws into email: to the success of the enterprise will be a full have faded away, and another claimed £2 firstname.lastname@example.org January/February 2008 FireFighter 23 25-year badges FbU REGIonaL oFFICES > Region 1 Scotland 52 St Enoch Square, Glasgow, Scotland g1 4aa 0141 221 2309 email@example.com > Region 2 N. Ireland 14 Bachelors Walk, Lisburn, Co Antrim, bt28 1xj 02892 664622 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 3 Cleveland, Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear 1 Carlton Court, 5th Avenue, Team Valley, Gateshead, ne11 0az 0191 487 4142 email@example.com > Region 4 Yorkshire and Humberside 9 Marsh Street, Rothwell, Leeds, ls26 0ag 0113 288 7000 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 5 Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Isle of Man, Cumbria, Merseyside, Cheshire The Lighthouse, Lower Mersey St, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, ch65 2al Rik davies (r) upton Blue Watch Norrie henderson (r) Dunfermline Pete Flynn (l) Blue Watch north 0151 357 4400 email@example.com receives his 25-year badge Branch receives his 25-year lincoln, lincolnshire receives > Region 6 Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, from mark rowe, Brigade rep, badge from scott mccabe his 25-year badge from tim Fryer Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire merseyside Brigade secretary Fife Branch rep Little Dennis Street South (above Dawsons) Nottingham NG2 4EU 0115 947 2042 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 7 West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Hereford and Worcester, Salop 195/7 Halesowen Rd, Old Hill, West Midlands, b64 6he 01384 413633 email@example.com > Region 8 Mid and West Wales, North Wales, South Wales 4 Ffordd yr Hen Gae, Pencoed, Bridgend, cf35 5lj 01656 867910 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 9 Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk 28 Atlantic Square, Station Road, SC John hamill, enniskillen Graeme Joss (l) Watch manager kevin Parrington (r) upton green Witham, Essex, cm8 2tl District nI, receives his 25-year receives his 25-year badge from Watch receives his 25-year badge 01376 521521 email@example.com badge from tony maguire, Watch manager Bob thomson, from mark rowe, Brigade rep, > Region 10 London regional secretary lothian and Borders merseyside John Horner Mews, Frome Street, Islington, London, n1 8pb 020 7359 3638 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 11 Kent, Surrey, Sussex Fire Station, Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, Kent, da11 8nt 01474 320473 email@example.com > Region 12 Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Isle of Wight The Fire Station, St Mary Street, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, hp11 2he 01494 513034 firstname.lastname@example.org > Region 13 Cornwall, Somerset, Devon, Avon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset 158 Muller Road, Horfield, Bristol, bs7 9re 0117 935 5132 Elaine Smith (l) Derbyshire Pete dann (r) upton White Watch keith Jones (r) Farnham green email@example.com control receives her 25-year receives his 25-year badge watch receives his 25-year badge badge from Phil Poole Derbyshire from mark rowe, Brigade rep, from mick smith surrey Fire and Brigade chair merseyside rescue West Division rep Change of address or next of kin Advise your Brigade Membership Please send photographic Secretary of any change of address and prints or digital picture files to: Head Office of changes to next of kin or nominations for benefits. Firefighter, FBu, 68 coombe road, Kingston upon thames, Kt2 7ae or firstname.lastname@example.org (Please FBu FReePHoNe note that inkjet prints from digital legal aDviCe liNe pictures reproduce very poorly). 0808 100 6061 Please include Full DetaIls The line provides advice for personal injury, family law, wills, for every picture – full names conveyancing, personal finance of everyone who is in it; their and consumer issues. station/brigade/watch etc; where For disciplinary and employment- Lindsay Bell (l) and kevin Arthur Brown (r) receives his related queries contact your local they are in the picture (eg: left to Murphy (r) lochgelly branch 25-year badge from mark rowe, FBU representative. right); their union posts/branch if receive their 25-year badges from Brigade rep, merseyside relevant; and where and when it graeme Birtley Brigade chair, Fife was taken.
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