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 but it was not until 6 April 2006, when the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 2006 (FPS 2006) came into effect, that retained firefighters could become members of a pension scheme. Those who were serving on 6 April 2006 could join from that date or a later date.
From 6 April 2006, the previous scheme - the Firefighters' Pension Scheme 1992 (FPS 1992) - closed to new members, although it remained in force for those regular firefighters who were already in the scheme.
The exclusion of retained firefighters from the FPS 1992 was challenged under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 and this resulted in a settlement which allowed certain retained firefighters with service between 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006 to become members of a pension scheme.
Because these retained firefighters could not be given backdated membership of the FPS 1992 as the scheme was closed, the rules of the FPS 2006 were adapted to allow "special members" to build up service in FPS 2006 based on their employment during the period 1 July 2000 and 5 April 2006. These rules partially reflect the rules of the FPS 1992, as that is the scheme that would have been in force at the time.
The amendments were made to the FPS 2006 rules in April 2014. They had retrospective effect for those who are eligible to join under the special terms, who elected for special membership, and who pay the appropriate contributions.
Eligible firefighters were asked whether they wanted to join this scheme in an options exercise which took place in 2014-2015. Elections to join had to be received by 30 September 2015.
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.
If you are a retained firefighter who has chosen to be a "special firefighter member" of the FPS 2006, the benefits provided by the scheme 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
- early payment of benefits if you have to retire on grounds of permanent ill-health,
- death-in-service cover providing a lump sum death grant equal to twice pensionable pay
- a pension for your surviving husband, wife, civil partner, or co-habiting partner
- pensions for children
Some members will have been transferred to FPS 2015 with effect from 1 April 2015, some at a later date, and some will have the right to remain a member of FPS 2006 until 2022.