One in Four Firefighters in England Take on Second Jobs, Raising Safety Concerns

One in Four Firefighters in England Take on Second Jobs, Raising Safety Concerns

Firefighters in England are increasingly taking on additional jobs, with some managing as many as four different roles.

This trend has raised concerns about the potential risks to public safety due to the excessive hours worked by these professionals.

A recent report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMIC-FRS) revealed that nearly one in four full-time fire brigade staff in England have other employment.

The Extent of Secondary Employment

The HMIC-FRS report highlighted that more than 5,000 firefighters have registered second jobs, engaging in diverse activities ranging from modelling to pallbearing.

Additionally, thousands of these firefighters are also ‘on call,’ meaning they can be summoned to respond to emergencies at any time, often disrupting their regular work schedules.

Concerns About Monitoring and Rest

The report pointed out significant lapses in monitoring the hours worked by firefighters and ensuring they get adequate rest between jobs.

HMIC-FRS emphasized that some staff had multiple employment contracts and were not fully aware of their responsibilities to inform their primary employer or ensure they were fit for duty.

This situation could lead to firefighters working excessive hours, potentially compromising their safety and that of the public.

Statistics on Secondary Employment

As of March last year, 5,092 full-time firefighters in England out of a total of 22,626 had secondary employment outside of their fire and rescue duties.

Furthermore, 3,534 firefighters were on dual contracts, working both full-time and on-call roles, often within the same brigade.

The report criticized many fire services for not effectively monitoring these secondary employments and failing to manage or monitor the hours their wholetime firefighters worked.

Work Schedule Flexibility

Unlike many other professions, fire brigades offer flexibility that allows full-time staff to pursue secondary jobs.

Firefighters typically work on a four-on, four-off schedule, which includes two-day shifts followed by two-night shifts and then four days off.

Fire stations are equipped with beds, enabling those on night shifts to rest unless called out to an emergency.

Decline in Fire Incidents

Despite the increased secondary employment, the number of fires and emergencies attended by fire crews has decreased.

According to Home Office statistics, firefighters responded to 142,276 blazes in 2023, a 19% drop over the past decade, out of a total of 592,996 incidents attended.

High Rates of Secondary Employment

Data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that over half of the firefighters in South Yorkshire have second jobs (302 out of 582).

Nearly half of London firefighters (47%) also have other jobs, despite a policy that prohibits work that could compromise their fitness due to inadequate rest.

Other brigades employ firefighters who moonlight as DJs, pallbearers, chimney sweeps, and chefs.

Financial Pressures and Pay Raises

While the firefighters’ union argues that the need for secondary jobs is driven by financial pressures, firefighters received a substantial pay raise last year after threatening to strike.

The basic salary for a fully trained firefighter now stands at £36,226, with an additional 4% increase expected this year.

A Multifaceted Career: Lee Phillips

Full-time firefighter Lee Phillips exemplifies the trend of juggling multiple careers. With 23 years of service, Phillips has also carved out careers as a model, fitness instructor, and TV personality.

Known as ‘London’s Fittest Firefighter,’ he has held the title for six years.

His modelling career began after being talent-spotted, leading to 29 cover appearances on Men’s Health magazine.

Recently, he became a referee on the hit BBC game show Gladiators after initially being asked to conduct fitness tests for the contestants.

TDPel Media

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