Firefighters to ballot for industrial action in South Yorkshire over loss of vital control operator jobs


Holding fire helmet

Firefighters to ballot for industrial action in South Yorkshire over loss of vital control operator jobs 

Firefighters in South Yorkshire will be balloted for industrial action in protest over plans which include cutting a quarter of all emergency control operators within the fire and rescue service and changes to firefighters’ leave arrangements.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say that the senior managers at South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue who were recently shamed into agreeing to pay back tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments, have proposed the cuts without any meaningful consultation or negotiation.

Pete Smith, regional secretary of the FBU in Yorkshire, said:

“Fire chiefs have lost the trust and respect of their staff through these savage cuts to fire control, leaving us with no option but to ballot for industrial action.

“Emergency control staff are the very first people you’ll speak to when you’re in an emergency. Firefighters rely on them to get all the vital information to perform a rescue as fast and efficiently as possible. They are an invaluable component of the lifesaving service firefighters provide. The public in South Yorkshire will be put at greater risk if these posts are cut.

“The recent scandal of high ranking – and highly paid – chief fire officers choosing to accept tens of thousands of pounds in overtime payments shows the complete disconnect between senior managers and the people working on the frontline. Fire chiefs must learn that South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is not a dictatorship but a professional and valued public service.”

Firefighters were forced into an industrial dispute last December following changes to the way staffing schedules and leave are assigned, as well as failures of the service to comply with nationally agreed industrial relations protocol.

Pete Smith added:

“We have tried to resolve these issues locally by utilising the nationally agreed procedures in place but managers have dismissed them. It has left us little option but to lodge an industrial dispute with the Fire Authority.”

South Yorkshire fire authority chair Jim Andrews was given the option of averting a ballot by facilitating a meeting between the FBU and authority members but refused to do so.

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At present, there is no formal expectation for fire and rescue services to attend floods in England and Wales

During the devastating floods this winter across northern parts of the UK, firefighters worked around the clock saving lives, helping communities and providing humanitarian support. At the same time the service faces huge cuts to budgets, jobs, stations and fire appliances. Firefighters are now asking the public for their support.

The FBU argues that a statutory duty for firefighters to attend floods would help fire and rescue services, other emergency services and the government as a whole to plan effectively and reduce risk to life and property. Such a duty has already been adopted in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

As a result of government cuts, 7,000 firefighter posts have been lost in the UK since 2010, seriously undermining the fire and rescue service’s ability to deal with floods, fires and other incidents.

Firefighters have always rescued people during floods and will continue to do so but the service needs to be properly resourced, with sufficient staff to deal with more frequent flooding and the best equipment to deal with the hazards.

An increasing amount of time is spent by fire crews dealing with flooding  with an estimated 70% of England’s fire and rescue services involved in the aftermath of the UK floods of 2013 – 2014. During the floods firefighters in the UK attended over 7,000 incidents and performed over 2,000 rescues.

The FBU is campaigning for a statutory duty for firefighters in England and Wales to respond to flooding, like their counterparts in Scotland and N Ireland currently have.

Ask your MP to support a statutory duty for firefighters to respond to floods.

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West Yorkshire FRS Statistics Show Worrying Trends

Performance indicators presented to the Fire Authority show that arson, rescues and fire related injuries have shown significant increases. Projections show that the trend towards less total activity has now plateaued with only a drop from 22124 (average between 2012 and 2015) and a projected total by April 2016 of 22041. As further cuts are made to our resources the public will face delayed response times and we will be put at greater risk from arriving later (on average) our support crews being busier and further away or on call from home.

Paul Drinkwater (Chair FBU West Yorkshire)

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Pension payout for ’18-20 club’ firefighters


Pension payout for ’18-20 club’ firefighters

Many firefighters are set to receive thousands of pounds in compensation as the government admits members of the ’18-20 club’ were short changed and missing two years’ worth of pension contributions, following a successful legal challenge by the FBU.

The ’18-20 club’ describes a number of members who joined the 1992 Firefighters Pensions Scheme between the ages of 18-20 and ended up paying into the scheme for up to 32 years, only to receive a 30 year pension on retirement. This was because, unlike many other pension plans, the scheme had an accrual cap of 30 years.

Now those firefighters affected are set to be compensated after the Department for Communities and Local Government conceded defeat before the start of a test case hearing, which was due to begin 7 December 2015.

The concession means that serving firefighters who have accrued 30 years’ service will not have to pay any further pension contributions until they reach the age of 50 – a ‘contributions holiday’ if you will. It also means that firefighters who paid these additional contributions since 1 December 2006 and who have since retired will be paid back the contributions they made to their pension at age 48 and 49, plus interest.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This is a huge victory for the union and for those firefighters who were denied up to two years’ worth of a pension they had made contributions on. As we approach Christmas I know this will be welcome news for many throughout the UK. None of this would have been possible without a strong trade union that fights for its members, this was a case brought solely by the FBU on behalf of its members.”

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Government ‘absurd’ not to give firefighters formal responsibility for flooding response following Storm Desmond

Firefighters carrying water pump

Government ‘absurd’ not to give firefighters formal responsibility for flooding response following Storm Desmond

Fire and rescue services need to be given greater resources to tackle flooding emergencies in the wake of Storm Desmond, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said today.

Firefighters have been leading the rescue efforts in northern parts of the UK, where the storm has overwhelmed flood defences, despite their being no formal requirement for them to do so.

The union says that the government should guarantee more flood related resources for fire and rescue services and should make flood rescue a statutory duty of the fire and rescue service.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The Westminster government is not clear what it wants in relation to these major floods. Firefighters have been magnificent responding to this crisis, working all hours to make sure people are safe. They have worked above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to locally based firefighters, others have come from across the country to provide additional support and bring extra expertise and specialist equipment.

“However it is absurd that firefighters increasingly perform flood rescues with no formal arrangements in place. Ministers say that this is simply a matter for local determination. That is clearly an unsatisfactory answer when floods on this scale are clearly not a local issue.

“Without a statutory duty there are no guarantees that flood risks will be properly assessed and the necessary resources made available to firefighters to tackle the problem. A statutory duty on the fire and rescue service would play a part in ensuring greater preparation and co-operation between the emergency services and government.

“David Cameron promised there would be no limit to resources given to help battle floods. He should follow up his rhetoric with action and give the fire and rescue service this duty and then ensure fire and rescue services get the resources they need.”

Fire and rescue services from across the UK have sent resources and personnel to flood hit areas to cope with demand. In one 24 hour period over three thousand calls were taken by a 999 fire control room in the North West.

Firefighters are rescuing people from danger zones and bringing them to safe havens, pumping out water from flooded high streets and homes, advising people in distress from control centres and limiting damage to rural communities by rescuing livestock.

Ask your MP to support a statutory duty for firefighters to respond to floods.

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The FBU has negotiated a new benefit exclusively available to our members. This benefit entitles members of the Fire Brigades Union to exclusive discounts of up to 30% on brand new cars on a wide range of manufacturers from Motor Source Group. The Union has entered into an agreement to provide this opportunity to members who may be considering purchasing a new car. The benefit is available to all members including our out of trade members.


We hope that some of you will find this a welcome addition to your range of benefits.

On average customers have saved £3,575. Brands available include: –

Motor Source Group have agents that will guide members through all of the options available to you and assist with your enquiry through to the handover of your new car at a main franchise dealership. You will receive a fully certified handover from a qualified member of staff. Motor Source Group will even accept your old car as a part exchange vehicle. They also offer a wide range of finance options including Hire Purchase, Personal Contract Purchase and lease.


A charge of £195 is payable for the service but advisors will make you aware of this before you agree any purchase. You will not be charged any fee until you confirm your order.

Visit or phone 01522 5000 55 to make an enquiry.

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TUC anti austerity demonstration Manchester 4th October


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Firefighters’ union welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a more equal Britain

Firefighters’ union welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a more equal Britain
The Fire Brigades Union were one of the first unions to back Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour party.  Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a welcome breath of fresh air in this current climate where profit and the acquisition of wealth for the few is given priority over fairness and equality for society overall.”

Responding to Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to fight the government all the way over the proposed Trades Union Bill, Wrack said: “It is heartening to hear that the new leader of the Labour party is 100% behind repealing this appalling legislation.  His comments about how this government champion deregulation in every area except the trade union movement will resonate with trade union members all over the country.  Corbyn is very good news for firefighters and other public sector workers whose unions are fighting hard to protect their right to strike.

“Corbyn’s vision of lawyers and police trawling through bits of paper to find out who said what about their employer is exactly what we at the FBU fear if the Bill gets through.  We are very glad to have the new Labour leader on our side, battling against this terrible, direct attack on the rights of ordinary working people.”

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Members will be able to claim their leave lost to long term sick from 2009


You may have noticed that an email has been put onto the Firespace homepage by Area Manager Butters in relation to the grievance appeal Andy Imrie won for leave lost to sickness.
His victory means that members will be able to claim their leave back from 2009 if it has been removed unlawfully.

If this affects you could you Cc the Brigade Secretary (using his works email address David.Williams…………) into the email sent to Carole Grimwood or Jaqui Bradley in order that we can monitor the situation.

Finally from us, can you please make everyone is aware of this massive victory and what they should do next and make sure it’s discussed around the mess table.

Yours in unity,

WYFBU Brigade Committee

‘Leave Policy Amendments

Over recent years European legislation has been issued in relation to how much leave can be reimbursed to individuals following a period of sickness absence. These legislative changes resulted in changes to our own Grey book leave policy. These changes were made on the understanding that European legislation took precedence over previous collective agreements that existed in relation to leave.

During investigations triggered by a recent grievance appeal hearing brought by Ff Andy Imrie it was determined that this is not the case and the changes to the leave policy should not have been made without further collective agreement from the representative bodies.

In order to rectify this we are now asking that anyone who feels that they may have been adversely affected by this from April 2009 onwards (specifically in relation to how the reimbursement of leave lost to sickness was calculated) get in touch with the Human Resources department by email detailing the dates of sickness and leave lost (please email either Carole Grimwood or Jacqui Bradley). Leave reimbursement will then be re-calculated based on the 2009 Leave policy (the one that was in existence prior to the changes triggered by the European legislation). For clarity we have put the 2009 Leave policy back on to Firespace. Any reimbursed leave will be added onto individual’s current leave entitlement and arrangements will be put in place to allow leave to be carried over into the next leave year if individuals cannot take all the leave in the current year.

We are also aware that this may have affected personnel who have subsequently retired and we will be getting in touch with those staff to rectify this situation.

Some individuals will be aware that there were collective agreement signatures on the revised leave policies from the managers and officials of the representative bodies that were in place in 2009. This was an administrative error in leaving these signatures on from the original policy. No subsequent collective agreement was reached and as mentioned above the changes made were in the belief that the European legislation was definitive and no further agreement was required or necessary, therefore the signatures should have been removed at that point as they were not party to the further changes.

I would like to formally apologise to those that this adversely affected and we will endeavour to rectify this issue as quickly as possible.

Jim Butters

Area Manager

Senior HR Manager’

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A fantastic local victory today by the former WYFBU Chair Andy Imrie means some of our members could benefit from thousands of pounds each.

A fantastic local victory today by the former WYFBU Chair Andy Imrie means some of our members could benefit from thousands of pounds each.
Please see attached letter from the Brigade Secretary

West Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union's photo.
West Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union's photo.
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