We offer a dedicated representative for issues that are specific to Fireighters on the Retained Duty System (RDS). This is done through our democratically elected committee, which is made up entirely of RDS Firefighters, called teh National Retained Committee. If you are a Retained Firefighter and want specific advice on RDS issues then please dont hesitate to call!
What does the National Retained Committee do?
First and foremost we represent Retained Duty System firefighters, we do this democratically and openly. We truly are a “Trade Union”.
A Trade Union that will fight for the members we represent, a Trade Union that believes in representing all uniformed sections of the Fire Service because by representing all sections we understand the “bigger picture”, by representing all sections we know how decisions taken by managers and politicians will impact on the Fire Service and all the people who work in it, not just an isolated minority.
The National Retained Committee (NRC) advises the Executive Council on matters affecting the conditions of Employment of Retained Duty System members of the Union and the related negotiations. We advise the Executive Council on the organisation and recruitment of Retained Duty System members into the Union.
The NRC comprises of one Retained member from each Region, a Chair and a Secretary. The member from each Region is elected by the retained members in that Region. The National Chair and Secretary are elected by all retained members nationally.
In conjunction with the Executive Council the National Retained Committee organises an annual general meeting of representatives of Retained Duty System members.
Retained Duty System Firefighters
FIREFIGHTERS working the RDS provide the backbone of the Fire and Rescue Service in many parts of the UK. In some parts of the UK they are the fire service.
The fact is that Retained Duty System Firefighters are a part of the fire service that few outside the service even know exist, let alone understand. There are also some within the fire service who do not fully appreciate how the system works. Those working the retained duty system staff close on 900 fire stations and also work on a further 160 or so shift stations, working alongside whole time colleagues. Typically they are on-call between 70 and 168 hours a week although this is in the process of reducing to 120 hours a week, giving them 2 days free from work. In all, there are around 18,000 retained UK Firefighters, serving, protecting and educating their local communities, on-call to respond to a whole range of emergency incidents. The public are unaware of any differences between Wholetime and retained Firefighters. And like people from all walks of life and in all professions and trades, Firefighters working the retained duty system have to juggle their work and personal commitments. But what makes them different from most other workers is that they also have other jobs to do too. This tends to mean having a community spirited employer prepared to release people for retained firefighting duties.
The fire service needs to recruit at least 3,000 Firefighters to work the RDS, says a major report from the FBU. The report says there are acute shortages across the UK, leaving many areas with a depleted fire service. The Fire Brigades Union says a recruitment drive and improved service are firmly in line with Government commitments – and those of other political parties – to plough more money into frontline public services. The report – Off the Run – warns that without long-term investment the Firefighter shortage among those working the retained duty system will get worse.
The FBU’s members who work the retained duty system are seriously overstretched at a time when 999 calls have hit record levels and there are record numbers of fires. The current approach is to try and make do with inadequate resources, trading on the goodwill of an already over-stretched workforce and their main employers. This creates problems with retention and recruitment to a genuinely community-based service provided in most areas of the UK. The Fire Brigades Union is calling for an end to a culture which sees retained Firefighters simply as a way of providing a fire service on the cheap. This culture leads to recruitment and retention problems and a poor perception within the fire service itself. It has been said “The shortage is acute and getting worse. In many areas a considerable number of fire engines are unavailable every day because of Firefighter shortages. We need a national campaign to raise awareness and properly funded recruitment campaigns. The current low-key piecemeal approach is half-hearted and simply not working. Retained Firefighters are a significant part of the fire service and they need to be valued far more highly than they are now. They do the same job as Wholetime fire crews
What are FBU calling for :
- Consideration of incentives for employers to release staff to work as Firefighters including tax or business rate rebates;
- Persuade public sector employers to encourage their workforce to become Firefighters working the Retained duty system;
- Recruitment underpinned by equal treatment, equal pay and equal rights;
- An end to the culture that Firefighters working the retained duty system are there to provide a fire service on the cheap;
- Ending the current practice of using surplus money from retained budgets (because of lack of recruitment) for other purposes.