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Does no one expect a 60 year old firefighter ‘to come running’? Age and pensions in the Fire Brigades Union

by on November 3, 2014

We’ve blogged before on the long running dispute regarding proposed changes to firefighters’ pension arrangements. But the photo below really stood out and caught my eye in Saturday’s Guardian (a print version, not sure if it also appeared online so possibly a slight departure from our focus on Web 2.0 media).

Firefighter

The ad features an older man dressed as a firefighter (it doesn’t say if he is a firefighter or an actor) and the intriguing heading asks ‘If you called 999 would you expect a 60 year old to come running?’. I say intriguing because the way it’s worded, the question seems to anticipate the answer ‘no’ whereas a more considered answer might be ‘I’d expect someone who was fit enought to do the job whatever their age’.

The ad goes on to say: ‘The Government expects firefighters to attend fires and other emergencies until they are 60 – and to meet the same fitness standards as 20-year olds. All the evidence, not to mention common sense, shows this is ludicrous.’ Now there are plenty of others, particularly in the field of occupational health, better qualified than me to comment on this but I think it likely that people of all ages could fail a fitness test. For those interested, the current tests are set out here on the Fireservice website. And this report sets out a review for the Firefighters’ Pension Committee published in December 2012 on how capabilities change with age. Interestingly the orginal pension age for firefighters was 60 back in the 1920s and only later changed to 55.

The ad also goes on to mention that the Government pays a bigger share of David Cameron’s pension that it does for that of a firefighter which they suggest is unfair. So it looks as if there are two separate arguments here, but conflated in this advert. One argument is regarding the notion of working until you are 60 where the physical demands of firefighting are perhaps different to the demands of jobs where many want the opportunity to work into their 60s or beyond. The other is about changes to the amount and contribution funding of public sector pensions which affects a much greater number of people in this country and beyond. Does it help to conflate the two?

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One Comment
  1. This is very interesting especially looking at transitions into later life and retirement, and how to make a phased retirement transition a reality for front line worker and manual workers. I’m interested in good practice in ways of doing this – any suggestions? See our blog for discussions on this too transitionsinlaterlife.wordpress.com
    Bridget

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