The RFU has been invited onto the national ‘Inclusive Fire Service Group’ which met for the first time earlier this month and includes other stakeholders such as the joint NJC Secretaries, FBU, FOA, CFOA etc.
The terms of reference for this group can be found on our website but the remit of the group is:
(i) the purpose of this group is assessment of the current position in respect of equality, diversity, behavioural and cultural issues; and
(ii) identification of guidance in relation to any further strategies that could be used at local level to further encourage improvement.
(iii) in respect of (i) above, to consider whether it is necessary to gather new monitoring data or whether there is sufficient monitoring data already available that can be drawn from e.g. the NJC survey, the survey conducted by the FBU, local employee satisfaction surveys, and other sources.
We very much hope that the work of the group will produce meaningful guidance and be used positively as a resource by all Fire Services across the country. Members will be updated as information becomes available.
RDS Working Group
The CFOA National RDS Working Group has been meeting for a number of years now and over the course of that time has staged a number of RDS conferences. The group predominately focuses on creating, identifying (and hopefully) sharing good proactive with regards to improving the recruitment and retention of Retained Duty System staff.
While progress has in the past been slow there is now a clear impetus to really move forward and start to identify practices that have had measurable success. We will promote any practice coming out of the group that we believe is a positive step forward and has been proven to increase the number of successful applications into the service. There is no one solution but a suite of solutions that are needed to be implemented at local level.
However, our view remains that nothing creates awareness within the public and local businesses better, than knowledgeable personnel, pounding the streets, knocking on doors and speaking to people about the benefits of joining their local station as a Retained/On-Call firefighter.
RFU – Fighting Cuts Across the UK
The RFU has been invited to address the Leicestershire County Council’s Scrutiny Commission on 4 November regarding the current proposals put forward by the local Chief Fire Officer.
We strongly believe that these proposals are extremely damaging for the Retained service in Leicestershire and we will be providing, as always in these circumstances, a costed alternative view to what is currently on offer.
The proposals rely on a number of assumptions that we know to be false plus include On-Call availability statistics that are already out-of-date.
At the time of writing the current proposals in Norfolk have yet to be decided upon but one of the options would be to close up to eighteen Retained stations in the county. Again, the council documents that we have seen so far, fail to address the ongoing RDS appliance availability and omit a number of areas within the service where substantial savings could be made.
It is clear that whoever formulates these and similar proposals either have no real understanding of how their local Fire & Rescue Service works or have a vested interest to protect certain areas of their respective service.
Either way the losers appear to be the public and hardworking, committed and dedicated firefighters.
While the proposals in Hampshire do not include any station closures, they do focus on reducing the Retained establishment on a number of stations and removing or replacing frontline appliances with smaller vehicles that are both limited on the number of crew they can transport but also limited on the amount and type of equipment it can carry.
Cumbria County Council have now launched their own consultation process which includes proposals to close Retained stations at Arnside, Frizington, Lazonby, Staveley and Walney. In addition to these closures the proposal includes removing the second appliance at Maryport.
The immediate question we have to ask is whether any of these service have actually read the 2013 report ‘Facing the Future’ which recommended the expansion of Retained firefighters and the financial benefits such a change can provide.
We will be making representations to all of these proposals but we are extremely disappointed that yet again it appears that the Retained Duty System is bearing the brunt of any local reductions.
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