Questions Raised Over Cost Of New Fire Fighter Fitness Tests

fire engine st marys 2Councillors have questioned the need for expensive fitness testing of island fire fighters as part of new government rules.

Chief Fire Officer Steve Webster told the recent General Purposes Committee meeting that pension rules changes mean serving fire personnel will now have to work until the age of 60, rather than retiring at 55.

But the fire service union is concerned officers won’t be physically capable of the work as they get older.

This has led to strike action on the mainland, said Steve. That’s because fire fighters could be forced out of the service if they can’t maintain their fitness levels, potentially losing valuable pension benefits.

New rules mean officer’s fitness levels will need to be tested.

Steve said on the islands, it could cost up to £5,000 a year to bring in independent assessors or send fire fighters to the mainland.

But councillors questioned why they couldn’t use the existing island facilities.

Council Chairman Amanda Martin said she was surprised to hear it was difficult for staff to keep fit on the islands.

She said we pride ourselves on fact that its easier here than elsewhere, with access to a number of sports and means of exercise.

Steve said he wasn’t implying that staff were unfit, just that it was difficult to arrange their assessments.

But Cllr Richard McCarthy said he still couldn’t see why we need special arrangements on the islands.

We have GP’s who test people’s health, an amazing array of gym equipment and fitness trainers in the Council, said Richard.

But former retained fire fighter, Cllr Colin Daly, had sympathy with the situation.

He said he knows how difficult it was to perform what was physically asked of him after the age of 55 and feels he wouldn’t have made it to 60.

He wanted to know what would happen to fire fighters who failed the new tests.

Steve said anyone in that situation would be offered a chance to regain their fitness levels and, if they had a medical condition, they could retire without loss to their pension.

He warned that the additional cost of providing that assurance could fall to local authorities. The government was still deciding who would pay, said Steve.

9 Responses to Questions Raised Over Cost Of New Fire Fighter Fitness Tests

  1. Bill HIner March 3, 2015 at 8:55 am

    There’s a bit of bitterness and jealousy about pensions on here!

    My pension was part of my employment terms and conditions and therefore I’m entitled to it.

    When I employ builders to do work for me they get part of my pension as pay for the work they do. It’s called distribution of wealth.

  2. Jeff Eastick February 28, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    The ‘nice fat public sector pension’ that Todd Stevens refers to currently cost Firefighters and Police over 14% of their monthly salary !

    • Todd Stevens March 2, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Welcome to the world. Try over 20% not backed by Government.

  3. Todd Stevens February 27, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Im saying that no one should be able to draw a government pension at 55. Its clear we can all still work! (and have to) Move out of the service into other work then retire the same time as everyone else and THEN draw your nice fat government public sector pensions.

  4. john stickland February 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    On a slight tangent, but also in the same context as Jeff Eastick’s question regarding the acceptability of a 55/59 year old fireman carrying your family down a ladder – I’ve recently quit the ambulance service after 32 years. I got to the point I had had enough and left 14 years early with no job to go to. My retirement age was for many, many years 60 and had recently been raised by that nice Mr Cameron’s government to 66. The retirement age for our new recruits in the service is now 68. Yep, 68, not 58. Would you want a 67 year old paramedic treating you at 4 am on his or her 4th night shift in a row? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t, it’s a young man or woman’s profession.

  5. Jeff Eastick February 27, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Mr.Stevens, would you find it acceptable to have a 55/59 year old firefighter carrying your family down a ladder should a fire occur in your house ?

  6. DGN February 27, 2015 at 3:10 am

    I am not alone in thinking the UKs Health and Safety regulations have gone too far. This is what the regs re fire-fighters are about. I guess there are many guys in Scilly who will remain fit to do the job….but would Todd Stevens want to be doing the work of a fire-fighter…whatever his age?

  7. Todd Stevens February 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Not capable of the work? I bet anyone who “retires” at 55 wont stop working /earning money. Try working in the muck n bullets of building industry all your life with no view of retirement or a nice government pension at the end. Labours Gordon Brown ruined private sector pensions! 55? do me a favour!

  8. yetanoth February 26, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Chairman, your knowledge of the English language and your love of pedantry is renowned. I was therefore most surprised that you failed to grasp the nuance of Mr Webster’s explanation, it was.obvious that he was not alluding to existing levels of fitness but to the Council’s ability to comply with a national standardization of measure.
    It would be helpful for the rest of us if you didn’t always assume that you know best; on the other hand you might as well fiddle and twiddle with this, the similarity with Nero is not lost!