Wednesday 23rd January, meeting with Fire Minister Brandon Lewis MP
This meeting was attended by General Secretary John Barton and Assistant General Secretary Tristan Ashby and was our first meeting with the new minister since his appointment following the last government reshuffle.
Topics included the ongoing issue of On-Call recruitment and retention, this is a big issue and we advised the minister that we have already undertaken some work to establish the extent and scale of the problem.
We agreed that there are some fire services who are undeniably doing a good job and making progress in dealing with issues affecting the RDS, however much as they might protest otherwise, there are services which still have a long journey ahead of them.
We referred to a debate on Future Reserves 2020 in the House of Commons on 8th November 2012 when the Secretary of State, Philip Hammond MP, made the following point regarding the creation of the Army Reserve.
“If we are going to make this process work, we must draw out the benefits for employers, in the general management and personal skills that reserve service will bring to their work force, and given the specific vocational training that the Army can give to reservists”
We made the point that it would not be difficult at all to see the similarity between On-Call firefighters and Armed Forces Reservists in the context of reducing full-time posts at a time when activity on full time stations is reducing year on year and strengthening the role of On-Call personnel proportionately.
To read the debate click here
Further meetings are planned.
Friday 25th January, meeting with Sir Ken Knight
On Friday 25th January General Secretary John Barton and Assistant General Secretary Tristan Ashby met with the Chief Fire and Rescue Advisor Sir Ken Knight and his team who are undertaking an Efficiencies Review of a number of English fire and rescue services at the request of the minister Brandon Lewis.
Terms of reference
To review the ways in which fire and rescue authorities may deliver further efficiencies and operational improvements without reducing the quality of front-line services to the public. The review will examine options for savings both within and beyond the current Spending Review period, including through:
- Firefighter training
- Flexible staffing and crewing arrangements
- The use of Retained Firefighters
- Shared services
- Collaboration with emergency services and other organisations on service delivery and estates
- Sickness management
- Sharing of senior staff
- Locally led mergers and operational collaborations
- New fire-fighting technology
- Preventative approaches
- Working with local businesses
The team will compile and present report to DCLG Ministers in the spring of 2013.
During the course of the review the team will visit a number of FRS including: Bedfordshire and Luton, Cleveland, Cornwall , Cumbria, Devon and Somerset, Essex, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Humberside, London, Merseyside, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Suffolk and West Yorkshire and will meet rep bodies and other key partners.
We discussed a wide range of issues where we felt progress was being made as well as areas on which there is much work still to be done. The team requested a written submission covering these discussions and other issues and this is in the process of being prepared.
The team is also interested in hearing the views of our members, should anyone wish to do so you can email the team direct using this email address. We would be most grateful if you could copy RFU HQ into your response.
National General Secretary