It is reasonable to state that the fire service has evolved over the last decade with its focus moving from being reactive to preventative, resulting in a large reduction in the overall number of calls requiring an emergency response.
Nobody should be in any doubt that the fire service will continue its evolution over the next decade and our aim is to put Retained Firefighters at the forefront of reform in the Fire Service.
The key national reports over the last few years have highlighted that the sector needs to change. In 2013 the Knight Report: ‘Facing the Future’ was published, earlier this year, after an 18 month wait, the review of national terms and conditions (Adrian Thomas Report) was published, and the then Home Secretary made it clear in her speech that reform was not an option.
Read any of these reports/speeches and you will notice that the expansion of the Retained Duty System (RDS) features heavily. However, this does not fit in with everyone’s vision of the future, with some claiming that the RDS is ‘broken’ and ‘unreliable’, so it is left up to the RFU to continue to represent Retained Staff up and down the country, working with likeminded services to produce innovative ways of working that has the principle of ‘flexibility’ within its model.
We will continue to raise awareness among local government representatives as to the benefits of its better utilisation of their Retained staff and work with service management in their efforts to improve recruitment and retention.
If you would like to play your part within your local FRS please contact RFU HQ.
Improving Diversity within the FRS
Our view is that by improving methods of RDS recruitment, raising awareness within local communities and providing greater flexibility, both of the role of a ‘firefighter’ and the contracts available to potential applicants, diversity within services will increase.
However, it would be helpful to us if you could provide your experiences, good or bad, regarding what currently works locally or is seen as a barrier providing a more diverse workforce in your area.
An example is the new fitness standards and processes of assessment that a number of services have recently endorsed which will hinder recruitment and retention. We have argued against these proposals since 2008 when they were in their draft form.
In recent discussions at national level it would appear that the penny has finally dropped, with the realisation that a blanket standard for all operational staff isn’t necessary and should be more role specific.
We therefore welcome your comments, which will be fed into the wider debate.
Pension Contributions – Tax Relief
We continue to highlight to members the fact that historical pension contributions to the Modified Scheme, both via a lump sum or through monthly payments, are subject to tax-relief.
Every week we are receiving feedback from members who have followed our advice confirming that they have received payments from HMRC.
If you are unsure as to whether you qualify for tax-relief please do not hesitate to contact us.
Retained Representation in Derbyshire
It is disappointing to see the use of the Retained Duty System as being described as ‘downgraded’ and a ‘reduced service’. Perhaps Mr Barber was ‘misquoted’ by the press?
We will be revamping our website in 2017 and would welcome your local fire service photos to be incorporated within the new site. If you have any that are owned by you or have the permission of the owner to be used on our site, please forward them to RFU HQ.