The first national pension scheme specially designed for firefighters was introduced in 1926. As you would expect, there have been many changes since then to reflect working practices and lifestyles, and more changes are coming soon.
The page below outlines the current schemes in operation. Each scheme has its own set of rules which are set out by the government.
The Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 (FPS 1992) came into effect on 1 March 1992 but has been amended many times since that date.
The FPS 1992 is a statutory, defined benefit, public service pension scheme initially made under section 26 of the Fire Services Act 1947. This Act was revoked by the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, but section 36 of the 2004 Act allowed the Scheme to continue in force.
The FPS 1992 is a final salary scheme, meaning that pensions are based on scheme membership and pay on leaving the scheme. The scheme was open to wholetime and part-time regular firefighters.
From 1 April 2022, the FPS 1992 will close for future build up of service.
On 6 April 2006, the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 (FPS 2006) came into effect. When it was introduced it was known as the New Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (NFPS). At that time, the FPS 1992 became a closed scheme and new members could not join.
The FPS 2006 is a statutory, defined benefit, public service pension scheme made under section 34 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.
The FPS 2006 is a final salary scheme, meaning that pensions are based on scheme membership and pay on leaving the scheme. The scheme was open to both regular and retained firefighters.
In 2014/ 2015 an options exercise took place to give people who had been employed as retained firefighters between 2000 and 2006 the chance to join a pension scheme. Those who chose to pay contributions became “special members” of the FPS 2006.
From 1 April 2022, the FPS 2006 will close for future build up of service.
The Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2015 (FPS 2015) as set out in the Firefighters' Pension Scheme (England) Regulations 2014 came into effect on 1 April 2015.
The FPS 2015 is a statutory, defined benefit, career average, public service pension scheme made under the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. Career average scheme benefits are worked out based on a proportion of pay for each year of membership.
From 1 April 2022, all firefighters will be members of the FPS 2015.
What’s happening in 2022
From 1 April 2022, people who continue in service will do so as members of the FPS 2015 regardless of age, meaning all members will be treated equally in terms of which pension scheme they are a member of.
There is no new scheme being introduced in 2022, all members will continue in the existing FPS 2015.
Features of the schemes
The three schemes are collectively known as the FPS
Unlike occupational pension schemes in the private sector, the FPS does not have trustees, nor does it have the type of pension fund which uses investments to help pay pensions. This means it is an 'unfunded' scheme.
Although each Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) is required to maintain a notional pension fund which:
- receives contributions from firefighter members and from the employing fire and rescue authority,
- pays out benefits to and for members, and
- makes and receives transfer payments to and from other pension schemes
an authority does not have the power to invest money.
The FPS is a “registered” pension scheme for the purposes of the Finance Act 2004. This means that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) allow certain tax concessions. Pension contributions attract tax relief and certain benefits are exempt from tax charges as long as they are within set limits.
Each FRA appoints an administrator to manage member records and payments.
A list of FRAs and their administrators can be found at the 'Contacting your Firefighters' Pension Scheme administrator'
The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 (“the Act”) introduced the requirement for each FRA to have a Local Pension Board (LPB) to help oversee the administration and management of the schemes.
The Act also introduced the requirement for a Scheme Advisory Board (SAB), to give guidance to FRAs on running the schemes and to work with the government on any changes.
You can find more information about the SAB and governance of the FPS on the Scheme Advisory Board website.