The Retained Firefighters’ Union (RFU) was formed 42 years ago in 1976, in response to the impending (first) national strike, which eventually took place the following year. Retained firefighters at the time who were members of the FBU wanted the protection of a union, but didn’t want to take strike action against the communities they served to protect. The void was ultimately filled by a number of very brave and innovative volunteers who formed the RFU.
Over the last four decades the RFU has successfully fought for members’ rights and jobs in a professional, constructive and balanced manner using the power of argument rather than the argument of power.
We have always been a progressive, outward looking organisation, for example choosing the word ‘firefighter’ in our name rather than ‘fireman’, long before it was politically correct to do so, which is why we will be changing the name of our organisation later this year.
The term ‘Retained’, while resonating with longer serving firefighters, is slowly being replaced across the UK by the term ‘On-Call’, to better identify with public understanding and help to overcome the ongoing problems with recruitment in the fire service.
In addition, the word ‘union’ brings with it some misconceptions with potential members, who believe all unions to be in the same mould: militant, confrontational, political and backward looking. The RFU has never and will never be like any other union, which is why we are well respected across the country and have been listened to both by local and national government officials over the last 40 years.
It is with these issues in mind that the Executive Board took the decision last year to change the name of the Retained Firefighters’ Union (RFU) to the Fire and Rescue Services Association (FRSA). This change will take effect on 01 July 2018.
We fully understand that there will be initial questions over this announcement, but the Executive Board and the Chief Exectutive can guarantee to all of our members that the service we provide and the values we hold will not change at all. We will remain an independent trade union registered with the Certification Officer, the only difference will be our name, we will continue to be a representative body focused on protecting operational firefighters working the Retained Duty System (RDS), their employment rights and their terms and conditions.
The change is an evolution rather than a revolution and ensures that the organisation is seen for what it is, a forward thinking, outward looking, progressive representative body that it always has been.