Retained firefighters who served a decade ago are to be given access to the fire service pension scheme under government proposals.
Fire minister Brandon Lewis has launched a consultation on proposals already agreed with the Fire Brigades Union to give the pension benefits to retained firefighters who were employed between July 2000 and April 2006.
Retained firefighters are employed by fire authorities to provide on-call cover from home or their place of work. However, historically they were not permitted to be members of the Firefighters' Pension Scheme until a new regime was introduced in April 2006.
Those who worked as retained firefighters from 2000 will now be able to purchase pension cover up to that point, Lewis said.
'The decision to open up the pension scheme to retained firefighters is about introducing a fair system that provides a level playing field for all firefighters.'
Lewis said there had been 'a long standing anomaly that discriminated against retained firefighters who perform such an important role for their communities and who are the mainstay of many fire and rescue authorities'.
Under the proposals, the 'purchase' rate will be calculated at the rate applicable to the Firefighters' Pension Scheme, which was 11% before government reforms introduced in 2012. There will also be be a uniform accrual rate of 1/45th, a normal pension age of 55 years, and a deferred pension age of 60 years.
Transfer of external pension benefits into the proposed new pension arrangements will be in accordance with the terms of the New Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006, which already makes provision for retained firefighters, as would ill-health pension arrangements.
The consultation marks the end of a convoluted process under which retained firefighters took legal action under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.
Hearings went up to the House of Lords before it was resolved that retained firefighters were engaged in broadly similar work as full-time colleagues and that their unfavourable treatment could not be justified.