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Cambridgeshire firefighters call for better terms and conditions to recruit to safe levels

Cambridgeshire MP, Stephen Barclay recently issued a supporting appeal in the local paper asking for local retained firefighter applicants for Manea Fire Station which lies within his constituency.

Manea, having recently successfully fought off the threat of closure, is having difficulties in recruitment and retention.

Fire Brigades Union brigade secretary in Cambridgeshire, Cameron Matthews, welcomed Mr. Barclay’s support and recognition of the challenges the service faces – but says that until conditions are improved, it will be difficult to recruit a safe number of firefighters.

Cameron said: “In Cambridgeshire over the last few years we have regrettably seen unprecedented numbers of retained firefighters (on call firefighters) resign from service. This puts a strain on local fire and rescue resilience, particularly in a rural brigade like Cambridgeshire. In addition the loss of vital experience, which is crucial in a service such as this, adds further strain.

“The role of community, retained firefighters is unquestionably demanding, both in terms of the required commitment and also personal/family impact.

‘‘Despite four years of local initiatives and allocated resources, the serious issues experienced by Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue over the last few years surrounding recruitment and retention, clearly identifies the need that radical progressive intervention is urgently required at a national level. This is by no means an issue exclusive to Cambridgeshire, but one that is reflected across the UK as a whole.

‘‘Undoubtedly a significant factor is the now desperate need for an improvement in the terms, conditions and remuneration of our retained firefighters so that it is commensurate to this highly demanding role; 100s of hours availability per month, working in dangerous environments, higher risk to personal health.

‘‘The employment market is clearly identifying the current terms which have rapidly degraded over the last half a decade, are no longer competitive enough to retain our firefighters under these circumstances.

“However to date the FBU has been the sole leading voice, championing this cause.

‘‘I personally, at both a fire authority meeting in February 2014 and subsequent national LGA Conference have highlighted this issue and called for improvements in terms and conditions.

‘‘We appeal to Cambridgeshire fire chiefs to finally break their silence on this matter and join us in our campaign for badly needed improvements in terms and conditions for all firefighters. Our communities’ safety may very well depend upon it!”

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