The Fire Brigades Union welcomes the announcement made today by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Community Safety, that guidance for Firefighters’ Ill Health Pensions will be amended in Scotland in order to safeguard Scottish Firefighters’ Ill Health Pensions entitlement.
Last year, the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) in England , changed the guidance governing the UK Firefighters’ Pension Scheme, making it virtually impossible for any Firefighter to qualify for an Ill Health Pension.
After discussions with the Minister, his officials and indeed MPs, MSPs and Councillors throughout Scotland , as well as Scottish Fire Service employers & managers, it was clear that there was a desire in Scotland to rectify the situation.
The changes being made by the Scottish Minister represent a much fairer and just arrangement.
Ken Ross, FBU Scottish Regional Secretary said:
“Today’s announcement will be a massive relief to Firefighters throughout Scotland . The UK Government guidance has meant that firefighters who are ill, including those injured in the line of duty would be robbed of their ill health pension entitlements”.
“There are currently 4 firefighters seriously ill in hospital in Scotland , including one involved in the recent accident in Alloa where John Noble lost his life. Should any of these firefighters be unable to return to work as a result of their injuries, under the DCLG guidance they would have been facing the possibility of being sacked. In light of the fact that they sustained their injuries in the line of duty, to face the possibility of the sack would have been despicable and unacceptable. The DCLG guidance is clearly morally corrupt”.
“The changes that the Minister will now make in Scotland represent fairness and common sense. We are delighted”.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary said:
“The normal place of work for a firefighter is in an environment others would consider extremely hazardous. It is morally wrong to expect firefighters to work in hazardous areas and face being sacked rather than getting a pension if they are injured.
“We carry out tens of thousands of hazardous rescues from fires, car crashes and floods every year. We expect firefighters badly injured at such incidents to be properly looked after.
“Fire crews are now trained to respond to chemical, radiological, biological and nuclear dirty bomb attacks from terrorists. It is wrong for Whitehall to accept that firefighters becoming ill as a result can be sacked rather than given an ill-health or injury pension.
“Firefighters in the Scottish constituencies of Cabinet Ministers can get a pension if they are badly injured at an incident. But firefighters serving the same Cabinet Ministers in London will not, and face being sacked.
“Fire crews from all over the UK attend the same major incidents, such as the Stockline factory explosion. We expect the same protection when we take the same risks at the same incidents and that includes a pension if we are seriously injured.
“ Whitehall ’s months of indecision has caused enormous anxiety among fire crews across the UK . It is the simplest and easiest decision to do the right thing and do it quickly, as they have done in Scotland .”