Let’s face it – putting out fires and rescuing pussy cats from trees ain’t exactly rocket science. The fact that it takes seventeen months to train a firefighter may not necessarily be a comment on the difficulty of the tasks but more an indication of the quality of the trainee. It’s another one of those jobs that requires two or less GCSE passes.
” We are like solicitors and lawyers – professionals and we should be paid accordingly”.
They are nothing of the sort. They are uniformed manual labourers who go up ladders, use cutting equipment and breathing apparatus. They have also talked-up the job to a silly level.
Last week, some firemen did themselves no favours by giving ad hoc interviews. For instance, ” I risk my life every day” is just not true.
Every fire is not life-threatening and neither is every trip up a ladder. Perhaps he was referring to over-exposure to TV’s ” Cash in the Attic” or perhaps too many “Countdowns”. Maybe even eating dodgy spag bol knocked up by his pal back at the station was worrying him or perhaps the risk to his health posed by sitting around on his backside playing cards or risking a poke in the eye from playing Pool or Darts.
The transition from Fireman to the more macho **Firefighter** started with TV’s “London’s Burning” and was finally crystallised by the terrible events of 9/11 in New York.
At the time, the media appended the word “hero” to the job description of every NY fireman – and they were heroes. Unfortunately, all of our firemen here in the UK then decided that they would also accept the honour and suddenly morphed from Firemen to “Hero Firefighters”.
The new testosterone-fuelled twenty-something crop-haired body-builder “Firefighter” who thinks that he belongs on a calendar is here to stay and will soon displace the old beer-bellied thirty or forty something “Fireman”. Firemen now believe that they’re brave rugged and sexy heroes. They’re glamorous – or so they think. But then again they probably think that “firework” is what they do for a living.
“FIREGLAM” is beginning to cost.
Can you imagine lawyers, doctors or accountants standing round a brazier, wearing silly hats and waving at anyone who toots their car horn at them? Why not? They are members of the professions – just as our striking chums the Firefighters claim to be.
Later this week, they will be standing around in the vain hope of Joe Public expressing support for their totally irresponsible strike.
Firemen striking on November 5th? Aren’t they clever? Who thought of that one?
Why do these silly people persist in their lemming-like protest – have they gleaned nothing from history? Remember the miners, remember the oh-so-powerful print unions? Where are they now?
Hopefully, jobs will be lost and fire stations will be scaled down , Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union will be elected to Parliament and then he can really continue to moan about media intrusion.
So what of these Firefighters – these heroes? Their current wages and contracts will be just a distant memory as they (hopefully) “principle” themselves into the dole queue. There has been a lot of talk but not so many figures relating to Firefighters wages. The Firefighters do not seem to want to cloud the issues with facts but here is an extract from the Hay Group Comparability Study:
Fire Services roles were compared with equivalent roles in the public sector and with industry and services as a whole (including the public sector) and the conclusion was that the base salary of Firefighters is very competitive in relation to both the industry and service and the public sector markets. Against industry and service, the base salary ranges from below median to above upper quartile for both the national and London markets.
The minimum base salary of a Firefighter is above the public sector median. The maximum total remuneration is very competitive; the maximum level is 45 per cent above the industry and service median and 40 per cent above the public sector median.
The remuneration of the Leading Firefighters is also competitive. The minimum levels of remuneration are at or above the upper quartile of all markets.
Transalation for Leading Firefighters: You get more than the average.
This is an extract from another report. This time it is the DLA MCG Consulting report.
Within the public sector, DLA MCG Consulting compared the Fire Service roles with jobs in the police, prison service, ambulance service and NHS acute care trusts. They focused on these four areas since all involve shift working and require the ability to respond rapidly to emergency situations as part or all of the role. Some other comparisons were considered less relevant; for example teachers, who require a significantly higher level of entry qualifications. These are some of the findings:
- In general Fire Service staff are well paid compared with comparable jobs in the ambulance service and in Nursing. Once holidays and pensions are taken into account their overall reward package considerably exceeds these groups.
- Fire Service staff are less well paid than comparable prison service staff at levels up to watch commander (sub-officer) but these differences are in general more than compensated for by their pension and holiday package.
- Police pay and total reward is well in excess of Fire Service rates at all levels but police roles are larger at all levels.
- Overall their analysis of public sector job and reward comparisons did not support a case for a substantial upwards adjustment in Fire Service pay for the roles discussed, either before or after benefits are taken into account.
A central plank of the Firefighters’ claim is that they put their lives at risk (the hero bit). However, a study in the Lancet found Firefighting to be only the 23rd most dangerous occupation after common occupations such as refuse collectors, builders, lorry drivers, and farm workers.
The Hay report stated quite unequivocally that the Fire Service is not badly paid – it is fairly paid. It is time for the “heroes” to take a reality check, take off the silly hats, pour water on those braziers and accept what’s on offer. Otherwise someone might notice how overpaid they are and how few hours they actually work and why most of them have time for second jobs.
Sign those contracts, you heroes.
Otherwise, many will find that the trip from hero to zero is short, quick and not in the least bit heroic.