Public Service Pensions Bill

Memorandum submitted by Defence Fire & Rescue Service (PSP 25)

Dear Committee Members.

I will introduce myself first, I am Fire-fighter David Kirby 44 years of age, from the Defence Fire & Rescue Service  currently Stationed at RAF Leconfield, Normandy Barracks near Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire.

I have been a Firefighter for 25 years this year having served with the Royal Air Force Fire Service for 6 years before joining the DF&RS in 1993.

Within the DF&RS there are around 800 Fire-fighter grades with an Officer core of about 140 which support military operations within the UK and around the world. We have been deployed many times at very short notice to cover ops during the last 15 years and I believe offer a great service to the MoD, Armed Forces, its dependants & this country.

The reason for me contacting you is with regard to ‘The Hutton Report’ and specifically to do with retirement ages for uniformed staff i.e. Fire Services. Ex.31, Ex.32 and recommendation 14, from the Hutton report.

We have been informed by the Director of Civil Service Workforce Mr W. Hague that we are not to be aligned with the Local Authority Fire & Rescue Service retirement age of 60 but to be in line with the Civil Service with the state retirement age.

We feel that this is an injustice to ourselves as we have the same job to do, to the same standards, medicals are to a very similar standard and our pay is linked to the Local Authority F&RS. How can the retirement age be different?

The Hutton report states; ‘The commission’s view is that the Normal Pension Age in this scheme, 60, should be seen as a benchmark for the uniformed services as a whole.’

A new pension scheme was brought into the Civil Service/MoD in 2007 called NUVOS and that scheme had a retirement age of 65 with it. This only affected new starters in our job and we had been informed via our HQ staff that they would be looking in to this and also only a couple of years ago were told that we maintained the right to retire at 60, which I took to mean everyone. I take it now that it only meant the staff on the classic scheme and not the new starters.

This issue needs to be addressed and looked at properly by the government, as it is not feasible for someone at an age of over 60 to maintain such a high level of fitness and mental awareness to remain competent and safe towards them selves, colleagues and the people there are trying to protect & rescue.

It is hard enough trying to remain fit enough when you get into your 40’s & 50’s but to do that when you are over 60 is asking too much. I would welcome Mr Hague, Francis Maude MP and Danny Alexander MP to have a day with Fire Service training staff so they could actually see what we have to do and be prepared to do at all time’s regardless of age. I do not think they could come away from an intensive fire having had to wear breathing apparatus and rescue numerous casualties from either a building or an aircraft and still thinking that there should be a 2 tier system that allows people who do the same job to have different retirement ages, when they in work for the same employer, all be it one is funded by County Councils and the other from central government.

It would be much appreciated by me and every Firefighter within the DF&RS if the committee could help in making sure there is not a two tier normal pension age for Firefighters, we should have the same retirement age as Local Authority Fire & Rescue Service personnel.

Documents attached are for supporting evidence.

Annex (a) RETENTION OF A COMPULSORY RETIREMENT AGE FOR PERSONNEL EMPLOYED WITHIN THE DEFENCE FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE (DFRS)

Annex (b) Submission from the Fire Brigades Union (PSP 10)

Annex (c) The Hutton Report

All above previously published

November 2012

Prepared 22nd November 2012