We are surprised and disappointed at the lack of notice by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service regarding the required formal written notification of the drill night changes as per employment contractual agreement and the methods utilised by some HFRS GM’s/SM’s to inform/discuss with staff the implementation of these drill night changes over the past months.
The FBU have been informed by members of some stations where the approach used was blunt, dismissive and “if you don’t like it, leave” . This is not what the FBU would expect of a professional fire service which portrays an image of a caring employer who purports to be family friendly and that invests in people.
The FBU is aware that formal notification letters, although dated the 17th of March (2 weeks prior to the implementation of the changes) in many circumstance were not even posted until the 24th of March as per post mark, (1 week prior to the implementation of the changes) and many members are yet to receive them, now several days after the implementation of the changes. The FBU feel this is totally unacceptable and will support any grievances raised.
The FBU would like to be totally clear and transparent about the following statement within the letter dated the 17th of March sent from HFRS to employees;
“The proposal has been presented for consultation to the FBU and the RFU and was agreed and signed off”.
Members should know that the FBU did agree with the implementation of the “centrally based training plan” based on the New Forest model including all elements that HFRS said were essential to make this work including:
· Weekly appliance checks (paid) outside of drill night.
· Repeatability of training within groups to allow individuals who miss a session to attend identical training at a local station.
· Realignment of drill nights to allow even spread of training resources and to allow the planner to work (i.e. no risk of an instructor not attending when expected now).
· Abolishment of make up drills for missed safety critical training.
· Utilisation of on line learning (Moodle).
· Removal of non-essential activates from drill night (SMV’s etc.).
However throughout the consultation process the FBU raised concerns about the changing of drill nights and its effects upon members and also the manner in which this was be handled with the view to RDS members who have arranged their lives around drill night on a specific night, of which has been the same for many years.
We are aware of some RDS members, who as a direct result of this change and the impact it would have had on their or their families primary employment, have left the fire service and this impact can already beclearly seen by appliances off the run when they would normally be available. The FBU continues to investigate the legal standing of these changes, specifically relating to the manner in which they have been managed.
It is important to understand that the FBU were advised that the underpinning of this centralised tracker was the safety of our Fire Fighters and without including all these changes within the limitation of the 3 hours training per week, the plan wouldn’t work and the goal of improving Fire Fighter safety would not be achieved.
Below is the FBU quote that was formulated and given to the service for inclusion in the edition of “Extra – March 2014”
‘The FBU has been involved in the RDS Sustainability Project from its inception and have been conscious of the need to try and maintain the ‘sustainability’ aspect of the project while supporting HFRS’s desires to improve upon an already good RDS service. As such the FBU had concerns regarding the introduction of drill night changes because of the impact it would have on some members and the way this change was managed. However the FBU is positive about the centrally managed planner which we have been assured will be out to stations by the beginning of March, as a way of more efficiently maintaining resources while reducing the administrative burden upon local station managers and aiming to support high standards of training across the Service. The ability to provide greater flexibility to RDS members who miss safety critical training due to other commitments, within a timely manner at local stations is something the FBU is keen to promote. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions for any aspects of the project then please contact either Bryan Stanislas (FBU Chair – RDS) or I, we are keen to raise questions before they become issues.’
Should members have any issues regarding this topic we urge you to contact your station FBU Rep in the first instance, FBU RDS Hants Chair Bryan Stanislas, FBU RDS Hants Sec Bryce Allcorn, FBU Hants Chair Nigel McCullen or FBU Hants Sec. Gary Jackson.
Bryan Stanislas - HFBU RDS Chair / Bryce Allcorn - HFBU RDS Secretary