Press release

Minister opens independent review of firefighter conditions

Independent review launched to ensure firefighters' conditions of service support their work of preventing fire.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Fire engine

The Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt is today (7 August 2014) launching an independent review that will ensure the conditions of service that firefighters enjoy continue to support their frontline work of preventing fire and protecting the public for years to come.

The review will be led by Adrian Thomas an expert in the field of personnel management and staff resourcing. Mr Thomas will consult with fire and rescue authorities, firefighters, representative bodies and report back in 2015.

The government is clear that the public rightly expects fire and rescue authorities to continue to strive for excellence and to demonstrate the best possible value for money without compromising the quality of frontline services.

A report by former Fire Chief Sir Ken Knight ‘Facing the Future’, published last year, outlined how improvements could be made to frontline services if firefighters’ conditions of service, often barrier to changes, were reviewed.

The Adrian Thomas review will consider whether the current terms and conditions are conducive to building the fire and rescue service of the future. It will look at national arrangements for agreeing conditions:

  • management practices and crewing arrangements
  • collaboration and integration with other emergency services
  • the use of on call firefighters
  • clarity of process in the fair recruitment and remuneration of chief fire officers and fire officers

Official national statistics show that fire deaths in England have continued to fall, with 5% fewer deaths than last year, continuing a trend that has seen nearly a 40% drop since 2004. The figures also show that last year, fire and rescue services attended 170,000 fires, the second lowest number of fire incidents ever recorded.

Ms Mordaunt said:

Firefighters put their lives on the line every day and deserve a workplace fully focused on fire prevention and protection. So we have a responsibility to each and every firefighter to make sure their conditions of service, some of which are decades old, fully support the challenges modern firefighters face every day.

This review will involve a massive piece of evidence gathering, in particular from firefighters themselves as they have expertise and ideas, to take the service forward. I hope as many firefighters as possible will contribute.

It will give fire chiefs an up to date assessment of the work place to implement lasting improvements so firefighters can continue to serve the needs of their communities to the best of their abilities for years to come.

Mr Thomas added:

The fire service and firefighters do an incredibly important job that requires a unique workplace environment. I am delighted to lead this review – it is a golden opportunity to look closely at how we can support the fire service of the future.

Further information

Further details including a call for evidence will be published shortly. The review is expected to take around 5 months with a final report submitted to government by February 2015.

1. Terms of reference

To review the conditions of service of chief fire officers and firefighters and the processes by which they are determined to consider whether they present barriers to the reform, improvement and efficiency of fire and rescue services.

In particular, the review should consider barriers to:

  • the flexibility and responsiveness of workforce management practices, staffing and crewing arrangements
  • people working longer, and ensuring they achieve, or if desired, exceed their normal pension age
  • collaboration and integration with other emergency services
  • the increased use of on call firefighters
  • clarity of process in the fair recruitment and remuneration of chief fire officers and fire officers

The review should also consider the national arrangements for agreeing conditions of service, in particular:

  • whether a UK-wide process remains appropriate
  • whether there is sufficient independent advice and expertise in the process
  • whether there are sufficient mechanisms to ensure that conditions of service keep pace with the rest of the public sector
  • consider the current usefulness of the Grey and Gold Books, and the present arrangements for dispute resolution within the Grey Book
  • consider the arrangements for agreeing remuneration of senior officers in fire and rescue authorities
  • identify any barriers in moving between the Grey and Green Books
  • the impact on services by the undertaking of activity, by firefighters, outside of normal working hours/shift systems

In conducting this review, the review team should consult with fire and rescue authorities, firefighters, representative bodies, and others they deem relevant. It will be an independent report to government but may make recommendations to others, including fire and rescue authorities and representative bodies. Where possible, recommendations should be costed and of sufficient detail to enable effective implementation.

The ‘Gold Book’ or National Joint Council for Brigade Managers of Fire and Rescue Services constitution and scheme of conditions of service, fifth edition 2006 covers conditions that apply to principal managers in the fire service and includes pay scale recommendations for local negotiations based around population bands and job role.

The ‘Grey Book’ or the scheme of conditions of service of the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire and Rescue Services covers remuneration levels for wholetime and retained duty staff and also control room uniformed staff are subject to national negotiation.

The ‘Green Book’ or National Joint Council for Local Government Services covers conditions of service for non-uniformed staff who support operational service.

2. Adrian Thomas biographical details

The government is delighted to announce that Adrian Thomas has been appointed to lead an independent review of the conditions of service for fire and rescue staff.

He will formally take up this position from the beginning of October.

Adrian is an expert in the field of personnel management and staff resourcing, with experience across the pharmaceutical, banking and transportation industries.

Adrian is currently Chairman of the Recruitment Society and a Vice President of the Association of Graduate Recruitment. Previously he has held a number of senior human resource positions in GlaxoSmithKline, Network Rail and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Having led the creation or re-structuring of organisation capability on many occasions Adrian is a recognised authority on resourcing best practice, organisation design, change management and innovation in service delivery.

Office address and general enquiries

2 Marsham Street


Media enquiries

Published 7 August 2014