We believe that the maintenance of firefighter fitness will become a hot topic over the next 12 months, as services across the UK decide whether to adopt the CFOA fitness standard or formulate their own standard that best fits the needs of the local service.
While the best practice guide is welcomed by the RFU (after all we were part of the Joint Working Group), we have major concerns that the current fitness standard advocated by both CFOA and the FBU is not fit for purpose and could have a detrimental impact on the recruitment and retention of Retained firefighters across the country.
The fact that there is also a lower fitness standard being advocated by CFOA for roles above Watch Manager, demonstrates the old adage of having ‘one rule for one and another rule for everyone else‘.
There are a number of issues that need to be resolved before services attempt to tinker with local fitness standards. All too often we witness a two-tier system where Wholetime firefighters have access to a state of the art on-site gymnasium, which they can use during their shift, compared to a a couple of pieces of equipment on a Retained station that you can use in your own time (unpaid). Yet both firefighters have to attain and maintain the exact same fitness standard. It simply isn’t a level playing field.
This issue is one of the reasons why we included discounted gym membership within our new benefits package ‘RFU Rewards’. It might not solve the problem in all cases but it will be a help to some.
If you have any issues regarding the subject of local fitness standards please contact your local committee or RFU HQ.
The best practice guide can be downloaded here.