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Fire Service: Pensions

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 15 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been issued by her Department on the eligibility of multi-tier entrants for future membership of the firefighters' pension scheme; what assessment she has made of the impact of such guidance on the multi-tier entry schemes, with particular reference to the pilot graduate entry scheme operated by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and other fire services; what representations she has received from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority on such issues; and if she will make a statement. [R] (127684)

Eligibility for membership of the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme is restricted to firefighters whose role on taking up employment with a fire and rescue authority includes resolving operational incidents, or leading and supervising others in the resolution of such incidents. In consequence those who join the Fire and Rescue Service at station manager, or above, are excluded from the scheme. Guidance to this effect has been issued to the Service.

The justification for a separate pension scheme with a normal pension age of 60 is that the duties of an operational firefighter are physically onerous and require high standards of physical fitness. These particular standards do not apply for senior management posts and therefore membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme, with a normal pension age of 65, is considered more appropriate.

The issue was fully discussed by the highly representative Firefighters’ Pension Committee during consultation on the new pension arrangements. The provision reflects the outcome of that discussion.

Correspondence has been received from the Commissioner, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, and a response is being given setting out our position.