A&E crisis: Fire service putting public at risk by sending untrained firefighters to medical emergencies

A&E crisis: Fire service putting public at risk by sending untrained firefighters to medical emergencies
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue have been accused of putting the lives of the public at risk by underhandedly sending their firefighters to medical emergency incidents that should be responded to by paramedics, the Fire Brigades Union has said today.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue currently have only around a third of its firefighters who have completed an Initial Emergency Care Course. This is a 4-day course that enables firefighters to provide only initial first aid. The majority of the remaining firefighters have not had this training.

Firefighters are being mobilised to calls to assist the ambulance service as they have done for many years, usually to gain entry, however several recent incidents show that ambulances are either not arriving or having severely delayed responses.

Examples include:

  • Firefighters responding to a request to gain entry from a concerned family member who was unable to contact their elderly relative. When firefighters got into the property they found a lady collapsed and had stopped breathing. An ambulance eventually arrived 45 minutes later where paramedics informed firefighters they were mobilised to the incident but were stood down whilst en route as firefighters would be responded too.
  • Firefighters were left unable to respond to fire calls for two hours after attending a property where a lady had fallen and hit her head. No ambulance was available and firefighters stayed with her for two hours until they were forced to leave to respond to other incidents, leaving the lady on her own.

Ian Murray, vice-president of the FBU, said: “Firefighters routinely train to deal with fires, flooding, terrorism and rescue emergencies but South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are mobilising fire crews to incidents they are not trained to deal with.

“We know only a small percentage of firefighters are trained to give basic first aid.

“It is irresponsible and dangerous to put untrained firefighters in the position of attending incidents to assist the ambulance service, with the knowledge that it is highly unlikely one will arrive for some considerable time and as such leaving the fire crews to deal with a medical emergency they are not trained to deal with.

“The coalition government is guilty of presiding over an A&E crisis where ambulance and paramedics are dangerously overstretched. The current situation cannot continue.”

Graham Wilkinson, chair of the FBU in South Yorkshire, said: “This is irresponsible plain and simple.

“Even the deputy chief fire officer of South Yorkshire John Roberts admits that we’re not the primary service for these sort of emergencies.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Video | Pension and general election update

Video | Pension and general election update

As the general election approaches and the 2015 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme is imposed Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, gives a detailed update to all firefighters on pensions changes, the ongoing campaign,where they can find vital information and attacks the Conservative party for trying to stop firefighters fighting for their service.

Posted in Pension

Trade Union Restrictions in Tory Manifesto

Another reason to think very carefully about who you vote for on 7th May

This is copied from the manifesto published yesterday

We will protect you from disruptive and
undemocratic strike action
Strikes should only ever be the result of a clear, positive
decision based on a ballot in which at least half the
workforce has voted. This turnout threshold will be an
important and fair step to rebalance the interests of
employers, employees, the public and the rights of trade
unions. We will, in addition, tackle the disproportionate
impact of strikes in essential public services by introducing
a tougher threshold in health, education, fire and transport.
Industrial action in these essential services would require
the support of at least 40 per cent of all those entitled
to take part in strike ballots – as well as a majority of
those who actually turn out to vote. We will also repeal
nonsensical restrictions banning employers from hiring
agency staff to provide essential cover during strikes; and
ensure strikes cannot be called on the basis of ballots
conducted years before. We will tackle intimidation of
non-striking workers; legislate to ensure trade unions
use a transparent opt-in process for union subscriptions;
tighten the rules around taxpayer-funded paid ‘facility
time’ for union representatives; and reform the role of the
Certification Officer
Posted in Industrial Action

All members circular [0240MW] Pensions: The 2015 scheme is imposed but the campaign continues

All members circular [0240MW] Pensions: The 2015 scheme is imposed but the campaign continues
On 1 April the 2015 firefighter’s pension scheme was imposed without agreement and with many of our key concerns unaddressed. The executive council position remains that the new scheme is still unworkable, most noticeably in England. Therefore our campaign continues.

In simple terms the new imposed schemes do not reflect the physical role undertaken by firefighters.

All members circular [0240MW] Pensions: The 2015 scheme is imposed but the campaign continues

Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Leeds March for the NHS Saturday 28th March 11.30 Outside Art Gallery

Leeds March for NHS


Posted in Uncategorized

Still the Enemy Within

Every single member of the Fire Brigades Union needs to see “Still the Enemy Within”  a documentary film about the Miner’s strike. It explains the structured nature of the assault on trade unions in this country and how they were employed in that dispute. If you do not believe that there was and still is a concerted effort by government to undermine trade union activity and remove from you the power of collective action by workers you need to read the Ridley Report produced in 1977.

At the moment I am reading “In the Line of Fire” a book on the history of the FBU. It is interesting to note that shift patterns now being introduced with longer working hours, being attached to stations for days at a time, were fought against after the first world war when firefighters basically lived in servitude at fire stations. Fire brigades also became part of Police forces in some parts of the country which removed the right to strike.

We need to be aware of our past to move forward in the future.

Paul Drinkwater (Chair)


Posted in Industrial Action

FBU response to latest letter from fire minister

FBU response to latest letter from fire minister
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, has responded to the most recent letter from Westminster fire minister Penny Mordaunt to all coalition MPs about the pension scheme dispute.

The response is given to correct a number of inaccuracies in the letter.

You can read the full response here.




Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Firefighters shut down Westminster! Video and images from yesterday’s rally


Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Industrial action to defend pensions

Dear Brother/Sister


Members will be aware that throughout the campaign to defend decent pensions in the Fire Service, on most occasions when strike action has been called, Buckinghamshire FRS has refused to accept partial performance and in effect locked the Buckingham members out for prolonged periods.

I have once again been informed by the local officials in Buckinghamshire that the authority will not accept partial performance during the period of strike action due to start at 0700 on 25 February 2015, for those members on shift duty stations (2,2,4).

This will leave the people of Buckinghamshire, once again, without the protection of professional firefighters for up to an additional 15 hours compared with the rest of England.

These Buckinghamshire members will be effectively locked out from 18.00hrs on the 24th February 2015 until 07.00hrs on the 25th February 2015 and from 07.00hrs on the 26th February 2015  until 09.00hrs on the 26th February 2015.

Local officials have tried through discussion with management to reach an agreement which could have avoided this situation but management were unwilling to reach agreement.

I would remind all members that up until 0700 on 25 February and from 0700 on 26 February that action short of strike remains in place, including the instruction that;

During periods of strike action being taken by FBU members, FBU members in a non-striking Fire and Rescue Service should not cross borders to work in a Fire and Rescue Service where FBU members are taking strike action or in a Fire and Rescue Service where the employer is not recognising partial performance.

As always it is hoped that the action we are taking will make politicians understand that we will continue to fight to defend decent pensions and cause them to make further concessions.

I would take this opportunity to congratulate all members for maintaining a united union and showing great determination in the struggle against this coalition government and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the rally in London tomorrow. For those of you who are unable to attend it is important that you support your local picket lines and get our message to as many of the public as possible.

Best wishes.

Yours fraternally

General Secretary

Posted in Industrial Action, Pension

Firefighters demand Cameron take action over Parliament being misled during pensions debate

Firefighters have demanded that the prime minister David Cameron and speaker of the house John Bercow take action over the way that MPs were misled by a government minister in a Parliamentary debate on firefighter pensions.

Ministers informed MPs in the House of Commons, prior to a vote on the 2015 firefighters’ pension scheme, that any firefighter over age 55 who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own, would receive a full, unreduced pension.

The ‘guarantee’, initially welcomed by firefighters, turned out to be totally worthless as both fire authorities and the national employers of the Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that they could not guarantee this position. Worse still the biggest employer in England, the London Fire Brigade, confirmed that they had actually advised the government of this before the debate.

In a letter to the prime minister Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, reiterated that firefighters are committed to resolving the dispute through negotiations but that the false ‘guarantee’ is “a clear case of Parliament being misled by your government.”

Wrack goes on to say: “This has been the pattern throughout negotiations with DCLG in regard to the firefighter pension scheme and a key reason why firefighters in England remain extremely angry at the failure of the government to take proper account of the evidence available.

“This has now become a matter not simply of policy but of trust and confidence in the Parliamentary procedure and your stewardship.”

The FBU has also written to all members of parliament as well as the speaker of the house asking what they intend to do knowing that Parliament was misled.

Posted in Industrial Action, Pension