London and Manchester fire authorities urged not to give firefighters extra pay

·2 min read

Firefighters should not receive additional pay to compensate them for dealing with so-called marauding terrorist attacks (MTAs), two of the country’s biggest fire authorities have been told.

Sir Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services, sent a letter to fire chiefs in London and Manchester, making clear his strong opposition to extra payments.

Firefighters in both cities are to receive an additional 2% pay rise for the risks they face dealing with a major terrorist attack.

In his letter, Sir Tom drew attention to the fact that police officers, who receive no additional compensation for dealing with such incidents, are currently subject to a pay freeze, while firefighters received a 1.5% increase earlier this year.

Sir Tom Winsor (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Sir Tom Winsor (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

He wrote: “It is of course extremely important that every fire and rescue service has the capacity and capability of dealing with an MTA.

“This letter is about not paying twice for that essential service, a service the public both needs and properly expects.

“Firefighters, with appropriate training and provided with appropriate protective equipment, can within their established job description be required to respond to a major incident of terrorism.

“They are already being paid to do that work, however unlikely or infrequent such an incident may be.”

Sir Tom pointed out that police officers and NHS paramedics facing the same danger as firefighters receive no extra pay.

Police officers have received no increase in their pay this year, in “sharp contrast” to the 1.5% rise agreed nationally for firefighters and the further 2% planned in London and Greater Manchester, he said.

“For any fire authority to pay again for a service it is already paying for, in this case, the services of professional firefighters, is not an efficient use of public money, especially at a time of acute pressure on public funds.

“If London and Manchester pay all firefighters more for MTA duties, it is likely that every other fire authority in England will face substantial pressure to do the same.

“None of those other fire authorities is likely to have additional funding from local government to pay twice, as may be the case in London.

“It would follow that each would therefore have to try to increase local taxation, to follow London, or, more likely, reduce the extent and/or quality of fire and rescue services in their communities to balance the books.”

Sir Tom warned the Government may intervene if the authorities press ahead with the pay rise.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “The Fire Brigades Union has been seeking to resolve this issue for several years.

“It is a discussion between the union and our members’ employers, in this case around a new area of work responsibility.

“Such discussions are an entirely normal part of industrial relations.

“It is unhelpful for the HMICFRS to interfere in positive discussions between the union and fire service employers.”

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