The first national pension scheme specially designed for firefighters was introduced in 1926.
The Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 (FPS 2006) as set out in the Firefighters' Pension Scheme (England) Order 2006 which came into effect on 6 April 2006.
When it was introduced it was known as the New Firefighters’ Scheme (NFPS).
The previous Scheme – the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 – continues in force for firefighters who were serving before that date and who wish to remain members of that Scheme.
The FPS 2006 is a statutory, public service pension scheme made under section 34 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.
Unlike occupational pension schemes in the private sector, the NFPS does not have trustees, nor does it have the type of pension fund which uses investments to help meet its liabilities. Although each fire and rescue authority is required to maintain a “Firefighters’ Pension Fund” which –
- receives contributions from firefighter members and from the employing fire and rescue authority,
- pays out benefits to and in respect of members, and
- makes and receives transfer payments to and from other pension schemes
the authority does not have the power to invest the money. If the Fund has insufficient money to meet all of its pension liabilities, the Secretary of State will make up the shortfall; if the Fund is in surplus, the Secretary of State will take the excess to cover any shortfall in the Funds of other authorities.
The FPS 2006 is a registered pension scheme for the purposes of the Finance Act 2004. This means that HM Revenue and Customs allow certain tax concessions. Pension contributions attract tax relief and certain benefits, provided they are within set limits, are exempt from tax charges.
The FPS 2006 is a final salary scheme. This means that pensions are based on a proportion of the pensionable pay of the Scheme member in (normally) his/her final year of service; the proportion depends upon the number of years of service at the date of leaving. Whilst this type of pension arrangement lends itself easily to the work patterns of regular firefighters with set contractual hours and standard rates of pay, it is not so straightforward to accommodate the variable hours and pay of firefighters who undertake retained duties.
The intent is that there should be equitable treatment of regular and retained firefighters within the benefit structure.
Membership of the FPS 2006 is open to any person taking up employment with a fire and rescue authority as a firefighter on terms under which he or she is, or may be, required to engage in firefighting, and whose role includes resolving operational incidents, or leading and supporting others in the resolution of such incidents. It does not matter what duty system they are contracted to work – they can be whole-time or part-time regular firefighters, volunteers, or retained duty system firefighters. (Other employees of the authority are covered by the Local Government Pension Scheme.)
If you are eligible to join the FPS 2006, you would be admitted automatically upon taking up your employment.
Once admitted to the FPS 2006, if you are required to perform duties appropriate to your role but not specifically those outlined above (e.g. if you become unfit for "operational" work), provided there is no break in the continuity of your employment you would be allowed to remain a member.
As a member, you belong to a public service scheme which provides very good benefits.
These benefits include the following –
- an inflation-proofed pension based on your final pay and length of pensionable service
- an option to convert part of the pension to a lump sum
- payment of pension before normal retirement age if:
- you have to retire on grounds of permanent ill-health,
- you are required to take authority-initiated early retirement, or
- you choose to take member-initiated early retirement
- death-in-service cover providing a lump sum death grant equal to three times pensionable pay
- a pension for your widow(er), civil partner, or nominated partner
- children's pensions.