Dear Brother / Sister
Periodically, we have issued circulars to remind members and officials to inform their FRS managers that any arrangements in respect of incidents involving marauding terrorist activity are undertaken by individual members on a purely voluntary basis. Copies of these circulars are available on the FBU website (www.fbu.org.uk). As previously stated, there is no national or local collective agreement requiring our members to perform any duties which involve entering the warm (or hot) zones at such incidents.
Procedures for dealing with incidents where firearms are in use are both dynamic and are at the extreme end of potential risk. As a consequence, the procedures must be universal in content and delivery.
Members who have volunteered should take the following action:-
Members should make clear that until and if agreement is reached with the Fire Brigades Union at national level, any such activity which you do carry out will be performed on a voluntary basis only. This can and will be withdrawn, as appropriate, on the basis of an individual or collective decision.
Members who have previously informed management of this position should remind line managers that the voluntary status remains unchanged. Members should make a note of the date and time of any verbal communication and of course keep a copy of any memorandum or letter that is submitted.
From time to time we are notified by officials in one fire and rescue service or another that the local employer wishes to extend its list of volunteers, and may also be suggesting that it will make such duties compulsory. As we have previously stated, it would be very unhelpful for a fire and rescue service to do so given the issues which would then come to the fore, such as public exposure over the contractual and safety debacle that would undoubtedly follow such a move. To be clear ' there is no contractual obligation, and there is no collective agreement that has been reached with the FBU.
The FBU has never encouraged members to volunteer, but acknowledges that a number of members have done so in the expectation that there would be swift progress on the substantive issues. We have been made aware that a number of members in a number of fire and rescue services are becoming increasingly restless at being taken for granted by their employer. The FBU acknowledges that and, as stated above, we are anxious for there to be an early positive conclusion to the discussions, with a view to reaching a collective agreement.
Members can be assured that our local officials continue to inform management that there is no collective agreement locally on the performance of these activities, and that any agreement and operational procedures and safe systems of work must be made nationally.
Our local officials will continue to refrain from making any interim agreement in respect of local procedures or risk assessments relating to local procedures. This is not least because any future fire and rescue involvement that the Union may agree to at incidents of this kind will require nationally agreed procedures for both multi-agency and interoperable deployment between fire and rescue services.
We will keep members informed of developments as they arise.
Assistant General Secretary