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Keeping Scotland Safe and Strong: A Consultation on Reforming Police and Fire and Rescue Services in Scotland

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PART B - FIRE AND RESCUE
12. WORKFORCE ARRANGEMENTS

12.1. By reforming our fire and rescue services we aim to create a sustainable fire and rescue service, protecting and improving frontline services and outcomes for Scotland's communities, against the backdrop of financial challenges. We have no plans to make fundamental changes to the status, or terms and conditions of service of fire-fighters or support staff. The Scottish Government recognises that the success of the reform programme will be in large part determined by the staff who will be transforming the service. Once the new fire and rescue service is operational, terms and conditions will be an issue to be negotiated between the Scottish fire and rescue service and its employees.

Current Arrangements

12.2. Fire officers are employees of the Fire and Rescue Authority or Joint Board under the control of the Chief Officer, and are governed by the national pay and conditions set by the relevant National Joint Council plus variations negotiated and agreed locally. The Chief Officer and Brigade Managers are appointed by the Fire and Rescue Authority or Joint Board and all officers below them are appointed by the Chief Officer. The relevant authority also employs support staff to assist the service.

Transitional Arrangements

12.3. The Scottish Government proposes that all firefighters, officers, control room and support staff (including those on secondment to other bodies) who are in post immediately before the new body is established should transfer to the new body on the day of establishment and should retain their terms and conditions of service on transfer. This is in line with Government policy that staff transferring within the public sector should do so as far as possible without any detriment to the individual.

12.4. Under current arrangements, the Chief Officer can require an officer to serve anywhere within the fire and rescue service area or, if agreed locally, a specific sub section of that area. In a single service model, the equivalent of the fire and rescue area would be the entire country. The creation of a single fire and rescue service creates more professional and career opportunities for fire-fighters to serve in a variety of roles across Scotland. One of the advantages of the single service is the greater flexibility it will provide to deploy officers and assets wherever they are needed. However the Scottish Government does not intend that reform should bring hardship to individual staff and therefore proposes that at the time the new Scottish fire and rescue service is established, existing officers and staff will retain their current terms and conditions of service with existing mobility arrangements transferring with them to the new service. It will be for the leadership of the new service to negotiate any changes should it consider them necessary.

Chief Officer Appointment

12.5. The Chief Officer will normally be appointed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board, subject to the approval of the Scottish Ministers, following a fair and open competition. The first Chief Officer of the new Service will be appointed by Scottish Ministers using the same fair and open competition that will exist for future appointments.

Other Principal Officer Appointments

12.6. We propose that Principal Officer [5] appointments will be made by the Chief Officer and ratified by the Board of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, following a fair and open competition.

New Staff

12.7. New staff, below Principal Officer level, will be appointed by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to ensure it remains sufficiently resourced and able to carry out its duties. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will establish the terms and conditions which will apply for new officers and staff, and also decide whether to harmonise the terms and conditions of service for support staff previously employed by each of the eight existing Fire and Rescue Authorities and Joint Boards.

Pay and Pensions

12.8. National pay and conditions for fire officers and support staff up to area manager level is set by the National Joint Council ( NJC) Scheme of Conditions of Service (Grey Book). The 11 roles covered range from firefighter to area manager (and their control room equivalents). Additional elements of pay and allowances rest with the employer and are determined locally. Similar arrangements (Gold Book) are in place for brigade managers ("Principal Officers"). There are no plans to change these negotiation arrangements during transition to a single service.

12.9. Any changes to existing pay scales, for example to align with existing public sector pay frameworks, would require discussions with the trade unions.

12.10. We want to ensure that fire and rescue reform does not result in any detriment for members in respect of their pension scheme entitlements and we will put in place legislative and administrative arrangements to ensure that firefighters remain eligible for the New Firefighters Pension Scheme and control room staff and support staff remain eligible to continue in the Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland). There may, of course, be other changes as a result of wider public sector pension reform but negotiations on this will be separate from discussions around the reform of the fire and rescue services.

Question 22: What are your views on the workforce proposals for staff transferring to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service? Are there any other workforce issues we should be considering?

Employment of Police Constables in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

12.11. The Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament has asked Scottish Government to raise the issue of the prohibition on the employment of police constables as firefighters (section 51 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005) during this consultation exercise. When the 2005 Act was passed the view of Scottish Government was that constables should be prohibited from being employed as a firefighter. The justification behind the prohibition was that, should an off-duty constable be employed as a fire fighter, difficulties may arise at the scene of a fire or other emergency due to confusion over which employer has the primary claim on the constable's services.

12.12. On the basis of the evidence provided to date, Scottish Ministers remain of the view that the prohibition should continue. However, we will reconsider the position should clear evidence supporting a need for change be presented. With this in mind, we will consider next steps in light of any significant evidence submitted to the following consultation question.

Question 23: Please highlight evidence where the existing provisions in relation to the employment of police constables causes significant difficulties preventing fire and rescue services delivering their statutory duties. How would you differentiate between the correct duties a special constable/ fire officer should follow if they attend an incident where both a crime is being committed and an emergency situation requires urgent action?