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Humberside Fire and Rescue Service values the contribution made by On-Call firefighters who help to keep the communities across the Humber region safe. They play a pivotal role within their local community, working around their primary employment to be available to respond to 999 emergencies.

On-Call firefighters were not able to access the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 1992 (or any of its previous iterations) as this was only open to Full-Time firefighters. On-Call firefighters were first provided with access to a pension scheme when the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme 2006 (“FPS 2006”) came into effect on 6 April 2006.

As the result of a successful legal challenge in Matthews v Kent and Medway Towns Fire Authority and others [2006] UKHL 8, on-call firefighters were provided with access to the FPS 2006 from 1 July 2000, provided they had been employed between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006. The eligibility criteria, set out in The Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (England) (Amendment) Order 2014 and were linked to The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (“PTWR”), which came into effect in the UK on 1 July 2000. A time-limited options exercise took place between 2014 and 2015 to allow eligible individuals to join the FPS 2006.

A subsequent legal challenge in O’Brien v Ministry of Justice [2018] EUECJ C-432/17 was successful, and the eligibility criteria to join the FPS 2006 were amended so that the start date of eligible service was 7 April 2000. It was successfully argued by the Claimants that under EU law the PTWR should have come into force on that date. The Firefighters’ Pension Schemes (England) (Amendment) Order 2023 amended the eligibility criteria to reflect this. The judgment also held that remedy could extend back before 7 April 2000. This allows members with On-Call service between 7 April 2000 and 5 April 2006 to purchase pension entitlement from the start date of their service.

Following negotiations between the Home Office, the Local Government Association, the Fire Brigades Union and the Fire and Rescue Services Association a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) was agreed on 9 March 2022, setting out the scope and mechanics of remedy for those affected by the O’Brien judgment. On-Call firefighters who are in scope for remedy will be able to take part in a second time-limited options exercise to purchase pension entitlement as a special member of the FPS 2006. The MoU sets out the agreed eligibility criteria for the second options exercise.

As the firefighters’ pension schemes are statutory public service pension schemes, Fire and Rescue Authorities must apply the regulations laid down by Government and must adhere to the terms agreed in the MoU in relation to the O’Brien remedy. Allowing members outside of the scope of the second options exercise to access the FPS 2006 would be ultra vires (beyond our powers).

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service highly appreciates the dedication and efforts of all On-Call firefighters in ensuring the safety of communities across the Humber region.