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How much do firefighters earn now, after their new pay deal?

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 7/03/2023 Nuray Bulbul
Firefighters to protest © PA Wire Firefighters to protest

Firefighters have called off their threat to strike after accepting a new pay deal.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted “overwhelmingly” this week to accept a seven per cent wage rise backdated to July 2022, plus an additional five per cent from July 2023.

Just last month, firefighters and control room staff postponed strikes to vote on the revised pay hike following lengthy talks with employers.

Some 96 per cent of union members voted to accept the pay offer on an 84 per cent turnout, ending the industrial dispute.

The u-turn came after weeks of talks, after FBU members announced they had “finally chosen to take action”, leading to the first countrywide fire service strike in the UK since 2003.

A majority (88 per cent) of firefighters voted in favor of a strike, and 73 per cent participated in the vote.

Real-terms pay for firefighters has decreased by 12 per cent since 2010, according to the union, and during that same time, one in five of their jobs has been eliminated.

The head of the FBU Matt Wrack previously claimed that some firefighters are forced to use food banks.

But how much do firefighters earn and why are they voting on strikes?

How much do firefighters earn?

Trainee firefighters in the UK earned an average yearly salary of £28,730. Once fully qualified, their basic salary increased to £38,340 - £39,325 per annum. This will now change and there will be a seven per cent increase on these figures.

A trainee wage will now increase to an average of £30,741, rising to £41,023 - £42,080 once fully qualified.

Firefighters need to work irregular shift patterns. The current shift system is based on four shifts, followed by four days off duty.

We have firefighters —and, I’m sure, they’re very proud people — but we have firefighters using food banks.

Head of the FBU Matt Wrack

Why were firefighters voting on strikes?

The FBU noted that the rate of inflation has hit a record-high, at 11.1 per cent, and said that firefighters and control staff require a “significant salary boost” that takes into account the cost-of-living crisis.

In November, the FBU rejected a five per cent pay offer. It said 79 per cent of its members had voted against the “disgusting” deal and that it would fail to support firefighters.

The union said the offer actually represented a significant pay cut in real terms. It said this followed a decade of real-terms pay cuts in the fire and rescue service.

Mr Wrack had previously explained: “The question of pay is an urgent one. Pay has fallen in real terms for the past 12 years, so a competent firefighter on the national rate of pay is at least some £4,000 a year worse off than if their pay had kept pace with [consumer price index] CPI inflation.

“That is alarming. We are currently consulting about an offer from our employers.

“We have firefighters —and, I’m sure, they’re very proud people — but we have firefighters using food banks.

“There is a growing crisis about the cost of living, as there is for millions of other people, but very much in the fire and rescue service and it has been allowed to drift for more than a decade.”

The Government does not directly participate in salary discussions, the FBU says, but it does “give a significant amount of the funds for fire and rescue services”.

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