How Much is a Firefighter Salary in the UK?

- by Elizabeth Redfern
Different Professions & Payday Loans – Chapter 12

Many firefighters claim they do not earn enough money to make ends meet. In this article, Cashfloat will discuss the firefighter salary and all the aspects of being a fireman.

At Cashfloat we like to go all the way for our customers. In an endeavour to further understand their customer base, we tried to learn who is actually taking payday loans in the UK. During this process, we were surprised at the amount of requests for payday loans for firefighters. In the following report, the history, training, salaries, working conditions and problems of firefighters will be examined in order to answer this question.

Cashfloat examines the firefighter salary

How much do firefighter’s make in the UK?

Starting salary £23,000 to £29,500
Crew manager £31,500 to £32,800
Watch manager £33,500 to £37,000
A highly experienced station manager Up to £42,000

There are higher rates for overtime, which is calculated to be 50% higher than their basic hourly rate.

The History of the Fire Service

In the beginning, voluntary bodies, parish authorities or insurance companies were responsible for firefighting duties. However, in the late nineteenth century local government took over. Before 1938 there were 1,600 local fire brigades. Over successive years there were mergers so now there are over 50 Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) in the UK. A central government grant funds these FRS as well as a levy on the local council tax.

How to Become a Firefighter

Although there are two-degree courses in firefighting, they do not guarantee entry into the service. No formal qualifications are necessary. However, applicants need to be a minimum of 18 years old and go through a National Firefighter Selection (NFS) process. This comprises a Personal Qualities and Attributes (PQA) test, physical tests, a medical as well as an interview. Candidates would also need to pass a background security check: the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Recruitment only occurs when numbers fall due to firefighters retiring or leaving the service. Upon acceptance, the initial training is an intensive 12-18 weeks at a specially-equipped training centre. Candidates learn basic fire safety skills, first aid and later extinguish a simulated fire. Once their training is complete, they join the fire station but are on probation from a period of 9 months to 2 years depending on the service.

FAQ’s about becoming a firefighter

Promotion and Training for Firefighters

Promotion is not automatic within the FRS but depends on the individual’s merits. All fire services are committed to the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS), which encourages firefighters to continue to broaden their skills by attending lectures, practical training sessions and so on. Some firefighters obtain the Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence, enabling them to drive the fire engine.

Firefighters in the Private Sector

Although the majority of firefighters work for the FRS, there are some jobs available in the private sector. These include working at civil airports or ports or being an employee of large industrial companies which have a higher risk of fire such as chemical, gas or oil installations. The Ministry of Defence also has some vacancies for firefighters. These postitions may have an even better firefighter salary than a position within the local council.

The Fire Brigades Union is the largest union with a membership of 44,000 firefighters - Cashfloat

Organisations for Firefighters

Founded in 1918, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is the largest union with a membership of 44,000 firefighters. It ensures that the voice of its members is heard on a local and national level, protects the safety of the public, improves working conditions and helps its members’ professional development. Benefits to those who join include an accident and injury fund as well as legal advice.

The FRS has been vocal in its objections to the government’s announcement in January 2016 that Police and Crime Commissioners would take control over the FRS. Similarly, it has been critical of the 30% cuts in the service. As a result, 1 in 8 firefighters’ jobs had been lost. It believes the projected cuts of up to 50% by 2020 could put lives at risk. They also said there had been an increase of 21% in fatalities in fires in England in 2015.

Other organisations include the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), which brings together all the FRS in the UK and the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), which concentrates on issues of research and training.

Firefighters’ Pension

Before 2010, at a rate of 11%, firefighters paid one of the highest proportions of their firefighter salary for pension contributions. In April 2016 it was increased for the third successive year. A person on a firefighter salary of £29,000 would have to pay £4,000 for their pension. Rules were also changed regarding eligibility. They would have to complete 40 years of service to receive a full pension. A government report recognised the fact that 66% of firefighters of 60yrs will not meet the fitness standards. Therefore they would have the choice of leaving with a reduced pension or face dismissal. Projected loss of pension for early retirement range from 20%-45%.

Payday Loans for Firefighters

Cashfloat analysed loan applications received to try and understand the customer base. We noticed many requests for payday loans for firefighters. Why? With corresponding increases in pension contributions, it is evident that firefighters have seen a significant decline in the value of their earnings over the past few years. Allied to these worries is the lack of job security. Since 2010, it has been calculated that 9,668 firefighters over all services have lost their jobs. With limited numbers of jobs in the private sector, many have found themselves unemployed with highly specialised skills which do not allow them to find other work on the same pay scale.

For those who have kept their jobs, rising costs mean they may struggle to make ends meet to the end of the month. Traditionally seen as a well-paid job, many firefighters are forced to look for a second job or to turn to lenders offering payday loans for firefighters. This is especially true for firefighters who are new to the service and have yet to reach the higher pay scales. Those with children are the other group who are suffering because of caps on pay rises since it has been estimated, by The Money Charity, that it costs over £30 a day to raise a child.

Conclusion – Is the firefighter salary continuing to decrease?

With future cuts planned up to 2020, the future of UK’s firefighters looks uncertain as they are not sure how many more jobs will go or whether they will have to change their shift patterns in order to cover for their dismissed colleagues. If shifts are increased, they will not be able to find it so easy to do a second job and so many more of them may have to take advantage of companies providing payday loans for firefighters. Cashfloat is happy to provide short-term loans or payday loans for firefighters who find themselves in a short term tight spot for money.

Do you need a payday loan despite your profession? Consider a Cashfloat loan.
Do you need a payday loan despite your profession? Consider a Cashfloat loan.
About The Author
Elizabeth Redfern
Elizabeth Redfern is a born and bred Londoner who loves the city life. She is a proud chocoholic who enjoys reading, jogging and eating - especially chocolate! Elizabeth attained a first class degree in Mathematics but chose to make a career out of her real passion, writing. She has published many poems and short stories, but decided to join the Cashfloat educational channel writing team because she is passionate about helping people take care of their finances leaving them free to enjoy the finer points of life - most notably (in her opinion), chocolate!
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