The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has recommended that firefighters reject an offer to expand their role without any restrictions on the specific nature of their work.
The union has been in discussions with fire service employers, exploring the ways in which the fire service role has already changed and could change in the future.
The proposed list of new duties was compiled by the employers and contains a stipulation that it was a “non-exhaustive” list. The union argues that this would effectively enter firefighters into an open-ended contract, where employers could unilaterally expand a firefighter’s job role at will.
The FBU will now ballot its members asking if they agree that:
- The union should reject the employers’ proposal and any such open ended contract.
- The union should continue its strategy of seeking to expand a firefighter’s humanitarian role subject to addressing concerns over safety, training, resources and pay.
Balloting is expected to begin on 18 March, with the union asking members to vote “yes” on both proposals.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:
“Firefighters will be very angry at this proposal. It is unacceptable to expect firefighters to agree to this list of dreamed up responsibilities. Worse still, fire service employers clearly want an unrestricted ability to pile further tasks onto firefighters without negotiation.
“It is true that being a firefighter is about more than just tackling fires. The role of a firefighter has vastly expanded in recent years. We are open to discussion about the role firefighters undertake – as we always have been. However, no trade union could recommend that their members sign up to a contract with complete flexibility at the employers’ discretion. I wonder what planet the employers are on even making this proposal.
“After a decade of cuts and pay restraint, firefighters are in desperate need of a pay rise. Massive reductions in central government funding are to blame for cuts to the service. Any proposed pay increase is meaningless without the backing of central government. We cannot agree to expand a firefighter’s role unless it is linked to a guaranteed pay increase.
“We strongly recommend that firefighters reject this proposal. We are a democratic organisation and it should be our members who make that decision; that is why we are balloting. While we are clear that seeking an expanded role for the fire and rescue service remains open for discussion, we are confident that FBU members will vote to reject this proposal.”