Many will know that the Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has written a number of open letters to firefighters in recent weeks with the objective of clarifying any confusion over pensions and fitness issues, the latest in this series of letters is attached for information. As always it is vitally important that you take the time to read and digest what it says rather than listen to rumour and insinuations from other sources suggesting that there will be mass sackings in the future if fitness levels are not achieved.
There is confusion regarding the V02 level because CFOA has previously issued guidance quoting V042 (which was intended for new recruits only, see attached circular) however, the DCLG has gathered their own information from services around the UK and the RFU has also undertaken its own research on the issue of fitness levels, both of which reveals that the level at which any employee could be taken off the run is below 35V02Max.
“If a firefighter falls significantly below the level of fitness expected by their authority (usually 35 VO2Max) then they may be taken off operational duties and referred to an occupational health adviser to find out if there is any medical reason for not reaching the minimum standard.”
Having spoken to members recently we have been able to reassure them and this latest letter builds on that reassurance.
Here to represent our members
We are on the receiving end of thanks in a number of ways, from phone calls, emails, visits in person or by letter; the most recent is posted below.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to one and all. I started as a retained fireman some 26 Years ago with Norfolk Fire and Rescue service. Soon after joining the fire service I became a member of the RFU. My stubs were such a small amount I barely noticed them being taken from my pay every month.
In March 2011 I injured myself during 13.5 ladder drills. Unfortunately this caused me to go sick. Because of my injury I was placed on modified duties. It wasn't long before I had to attend a formal stage 1 hearing so I contacted the RFU to ask their advice. Soon after that it went to a level 2 hearing where a RFU representative came with me to advise and support me. I didn't have a clue what was happening or what to do but thankfully I had the full support of the RFU.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to become a member of the RFU. You will never know if or when you might need them, they really are your insurance.
Following my last meeting with Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service I was offered retirement on medical grounds. Myself and my family now have a secure future.
Finally I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff at the RFU for their full support and understanding.
Although often repeated, this is the main reason why people join unions, the insurance policy if the worst happens, satisfied members are our best recruitment tool but serving members can help too by speaking to colleagues on station and explaining the benefits of a non militant union which does what is says on the tin.
National General Secretary