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FBU to run personal training apprenticeships as fire service launch new guidance on firefighter fitness

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced its plans to provide Level 3 personal training apprenticeships to fire and rescue services in England as new guidance is published by fire service employers and employees on firefighter fitness best practice.

More than three quarters of English fire and rescue services have expressed an interest in the FBU apprenticeships, which will train firefighters to become personal trainers to support, encourage and enhance fitness on fire stations around the country.

The best practice guidance, launched at the Local Government Association (LGA) conference, recommends a joint approach to fitness if employees and employers are going to maintain a healthy workforce.

The idea is to steer employers away from a punitive approach to age related falling fitness that is sadly embedded in some current policies. Instead the guidance puts the focus on achieving and maintaining fitness among firefighters, including women, who have been identified as being disproportionately affected by recent pension legislation which imposes a normal pension age of 60. 

The best practice guidance will be used to challenge any fitness policy that fails to recognise the key points within the guidance. The FBU will not agree to any policy that places firefighters in danger in relation to their fitness levels.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “This document is a positive step in firefighter fitness. It suggests a safe fitness standard, a consistent approach to assessments and a supportive rather than a punitive attitude.  We hope that it will mean that older firefighters will be safe to carry on working and be as fit and healthy as they can. The guidance doesn’t resolve all of our concerns, but it does give us a platform to work from.

“Our message to employers is simple – unless you can provide a logical, robust, evidenced reason for not conforming to the guidance, then your fitness policy should replicate it. 

We are also very pleased that fire and rescue services in England are interested in taking up our personal training apprenticeships, and hope very much that they will contribute to the maintenance of the healthy, fit firefighter workforce the public deserve.”

Read the all members circular here.

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