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Former Wholetime Firefighters Returning to Service


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Folks,  just signed up to this so I may not be fully aligned with how it should work, so apologies in advance.

I have recently returned to the service after a break of just short of 5 years.  Previously served 12 years, had got to Watch Manager and had passed my SM's ADC about 8 months prior to leaving.  As you would expect I had loads of courses and qualifications under my belt and spent my final year in a training role.

On my return, I have had to go all the way back to the beginning, (as if I had zero experience) and am currently doing the Development Firefighter programme. 

I have approached the Senior Leadership Team with how this cannot possibly be best value for the service and to be honest I have gained a little bit of traction and hope to effect change in this area.   Obviously after 5yrs you would expect there to be some skills dilution but now having done the complete course and am now in my second year back in the job, I can assure you all out there that the vast majority of the knowledge was still there and a refresher of some description would be a much more beneficial and cost efficient way of reintegration back into the service.

My question is, does anyone on here, have any experience within their service of this and whether or not is is dealt with in a more productive manner? 


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Why are the fire service so backward when dealing with former employees? What other industry/sector is so opposed to hiring people with actual experience and a proven track record? >:(

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Thanks Jamie and you are 100% correct. 

I have researched this, and not only are we the only Public sector employer to completely disregard previous experience, we are the only employer across industry as a whole that does this.   

Don't get me wrong, it was explained to me what I would have to do when I rejoined so I did enter this with my eyes fully open, however it is proving unbearably frustrating sitting pretending to be a Trainee when there is absolutely no need for this to be the case.  

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Especially when you consider how proud some brigades/HR departments are at how 'forward thinking' they are. It's an embarrassment >:(

Good luck mate, maybe you will be the one that changes it all? I assume the FBU are being absolutely no help?

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We have WC and Station managers retire...they must be away for 6 months...they have returned on fixed term contracts (1 year ) and they come back as ff not the rank they left at. Even though ultimately qualified!

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Playing devils advocate with this @Ashy657, but the fireservice has by and large successfully avoided multitier entry. There may have been a few that tried it, but it hasn't worked out and it hasn't been repeated. Now whilst I'm sure you had your reasons for leaving, have previous experience, but after such a break, why should you expect to come back in and return to a supervisory / middle management post?

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OT & Carefree, 

It is (kind of) the same service, several legacy services merged to become one, I left the legacy service. 

Keith, I perhaps never made it clear, but there is absolutely no expectation to return to previous rank. 

As I also said, I returned with my eyes fully open with regard what I would be required to do, but now being in the middle of that process, it is glaringly obvious to me and all of my colleagues that there is absolutely no need me to go through the motions of being a trainee again. 

In agreement of your statement, I actually agree with you that if you leave there should be no return to a previous held rank/role but returning as a competent FF, is without doubt not unreasonable and as I said previously, the Fire Service (in my investigation to date) seems to be the only employer across all the public sectors and industry in general that doesn’t recognise previous experience. 

Good points though folks and thank you for engaging. 

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This has happened in MAWW FRS.

A WT FF was made to do the full recruits course when he transferred, beggars believe as to why because he was already comp in another brigade when he came across. 

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There is a FF on my station who wants to transfer in Lancs. He has 16 years in and has recently applied as a new recruit. They have told him he has to go through the same recruitment process and take a 7k pay drop as a trainee, completing his probation period. On completion of the probation, he will then be deemed competent and go back to full money.

What an absolute waste of time and money that is.

And if its any consolation to those applying, he failed the interview. Their loss is our gain.

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My brigade has had similar issues in the recent past with people fighting for their competent money after being in previously/transferring. 

Has been some examples of good practice though. We recently had a many years served Icelandic firefighter join, and after some good work from the local union reps managed to agree that he would carry out the NVQ but on competent pay. 

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I agree its totally backwards in making you start from scratch as though you have no experience. It amazes me the areas that could be utilised in saving time and money that are completely ignored, especially when you think about the amount of spending the UKFRS has been required to cut in recent years. When you compare it to things like high potential development schemes that see people with zero experience thrust straight on the management path it is even more perplexing.

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Consider a Watch Manager who - like me- transferred into fire safety and stayed there for 6/7 years. I didn't touch a BA set or ladder in that time. OK, I went on to retirement, but what if I had wanted to return to ops? Of course, I would have needed a fair bit of re- training, especially on new kit - but there would have been no significant or unreasonable obstacles 

Whereas, if I had moved to a neighbouring FRS as a WM and kept operational (thereby maintaining my CPD) for the same period, I would have had to go back to FF(D) if re-joining my 'home' Brigade. 

There doesn't seem to be a lot of sense in that approach and perhaps it is time for a change

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I returned to GMFRS after a 2 year secondment and was told I would have to do 1 weeks retraining for every 6 months I had been away which obviously equated to a month which was more than enough.

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this is exactly the type of solution that I will propose. 

Messyshaw, we have actually had a similar  situation in my current FRS, where a guy was in Fire Safety for 12 years and only very recently returned to an operational post with very minimal refresher training. 

i am making some headway (albeit very slight) but I really hope I can influence change in this area as even if I remove myself from the equation, it truly is an area that makes absolutely no sense at all and clearly from the replies, a good few other Brigades have no common sense solution. 



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Our fire safety guys (and gals )or any day work roles are required to keep operationally competent, and must ride  ( unless they have specific medical conditions preventing such) I think its once a month., and all their core competencies must be in date - regardless of position. Maybe as we are so short, this has had more emphasis on being enforced than in the past. Certainly means no refresher or retraining issues when returning to ops from a specialist post.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is the problem with HR running the recruitment side of things - dank, sterile views, only interested in KPI's and PQA's - they just don't realise that the Fire Service is a unique organism, organic and growing with experience,.... whether its recruitment or inter service transfer - they just don't get it.

Having convinced Senior management that we need them......what a trick.....like the Emperors new clothes.....more fool them

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