In early December the union published a pamphlet to address government plans to return the fire service into local authority control after the war.
The union’s executive vehemently opposed such a suggestion but also believed nationalisation under the National Fire Service was not the answer, agreeing that it was unsuited to peace-time conditions. The union said:
“We need a service fitted to local needs, close to the people whom we serve but free from the drag on efficiency which would result from every rural and urban district council maintaining its own brigade.”
The pamphlet detailed proposals for a post-war service in which large brigades would be responsible for main urban and industrial areas, with each brigade managed by a committee of local authorities in the region, guaranteeing more democratic control of the service.
Standards and efficiency would be maintained by a central advisory council, the union proposed. In an effort to protect firefighters’ terms and conditions after the war, and prevent a return to pre-war conditions, the document proposed a 48-hour week, a national minimum rate of pay “comparable at least with the police scales of pay”, a new pension scheme and an improved code of discipline. Copies of the pamphlet were sent to the government and local councils with a request that the union be included in any talks.
The proposals of the FBU were not adopted by the government, under pressure to retrun the service to direct local authority control. Nevertheless, the fact that the organisation representing professional firefighters had a clear opinion on how the service should be governed made it increasingly hard to ignore the FBUs views and recommendations.