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Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union
Full name The Fire Brigades Union
Founded 1918
Members 44,000
Affiliation TUC, ICTU
STUC, TUCG, EPSU PSI CSC JFC PSC Amnesty International
Key people

Matt Wrack, General Secretary - formerly a Firefighter in London Fire Brigade

Alan McLean, President - Firefighter in Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Andy Dark, Assistant General Secretary - formerly a Firefighter in London Fire Brigade

Dave Limer, National Treasurer - Firefighter in Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service

Dave Green, National Officer - formerly a Firefighter in Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service

John McGhee, National Officer - formerly a Firefighter in Strathclyde Fire & Rescue Service

Sean Starbuck, National Officer - formerly a Firefighter in Humberside Fire Service
Office location

Bradley House

68 Coombe Road, Kingston upon Thames, London, KT2 7AE
Country United Kingdom

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is a trade union in the United Kingdom for wholetime Firefighters (including Officers up to Chief Fire Officer/Firemaster), Retained Duty System (RDS – part-time) and Emergency Control Room staff. It has around 44,000 members, and represents the majority of uniformed fire brigade staff in the United Kingdom.


  • History 1
    • Foundation 1.1
    • Second World War 1.2
    • 2002–03 dispute 1.3
    • 2013-14 dispute 1.4
  • Officials 2
    • General Secretaries 2.1
    • Presidents 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6



The first recorded instance of trade union organisation of firefighters was when the Municipal Employees' Association recruited several London County Council firemen in early 1905, which by the end of the following year had grown to a branch of 500.[1]

After the entire branch had transferred to the rival National Union of Corporation Workers (NUCW), the branch grew to 1,100 of the 1,300 London firemen and to protect the then branch secretary from potential dismissal, sub-officer E. W. Southgate handed over branch secretaryship to Jim Bradley, a London park-keeper who had been nominated by the union's executive.[2]

Following the strike of police officers on 29 August 1918, Bradley organised a secret ballot of firemen on the issue of strike action over pay and conditions. After winning the right to a representative board for London firemen, the fire brigade branch of NUCW seceded from the union to join the Firemen's Trade Union, what had been a friendly society for around 200 firemen in private brigades led by

External links

  • Bailey, Victor (ed.) (1992) Forged in Fire: the history of the Fire Brigades Union. London: Lawrence & Wishart ISBN 0-85315-750-2

Further reading

  1. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), pp. 10–11
  2. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), p. 11
  3. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), p. 17
  4. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), pp. 40–43
  5. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), pp. 43–44
  6. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), p. 45
  7. ^ Bailey, V. "The Early History of the Fire Brigades Union" In: Bailey, V. (1992), pp. 54–55
  8. ^ "Firefighters back industrial action in pensions row". BBC News. BBC. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Firefighters confirm four-hour strike in England and Wales". BBC News. BBC. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Firefighters announce strike on the days leading up to Bonfire Night". London Evening Standard. London Evening Standard. 24 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 


See also

  • 1939 – 1944 Gus Odlin
  • 1944 – 1959 John Burns
  • 1959 – 1964 Terry Parry
  • 1964 – 1977 Enoch Humphries
  • 1977 – 1979 Wilf Barber
  • 1979 – 1986 Bill Deal
  • 1986 – 1991 Stan Fitzsimmons
  • 1991 – 1999 Ronnie Scott
  • 1999 – 2002 Mick Harper
  • 2002 – 2007 Ruth Winters
  • 2007 – 2010 Mick Shaw
  • 2011 - to date Alan McLean


General Secretaries


In August 2013, FBU members were balloted with 78% voting in favour of industrial action, in a dispute of pensions.[8] The first strike took place on 25 September 2013 for four hours.[9] Periods of industrial action have continued throughout 2013 and 2014, when the dispute escalated with a 96hour strike called from 31 October to 4 November 2014.[10]

2013-14 dispute

The FBU disaffiliated from the Labour Party in 2004 and calls for reaffiliation have been repeatedly defeated.

Led by its then General Secretary Andy Gilchrist, the union called a Matt Wrack, defeated Gilchrist in the election for General Secretary, attaining 63.9% of the vote cast (12,883 votes) on a total turnout of about 40% of the membership.

2002–03 dispute

1977 Sees first National strike

As a result of the London Blitz, the fire service was nationalised in 1941 by the powers of the Fire Services (Emergency Provisions) Bill.[7]

[6] The question of the AFS transformed the union, the incumbent leadership, headed by General Secretary

The Air Raid Precautions Act (1937) contained provisions for recruiting a volunteer force of auxiliaries to supplement existing fire brigades, which were called up on 1 September 1939. The 95,000 called up (89,000 men, 6,000 women) formed the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) far outnumbered the around 6,000 full-time regulars. AFS firefighters were on worse conditions, with regular firemen promoted to be their officers. The war emergency also saw the re-instatement of continuous duty service, which was dropped after a week in favour of a 112-hour week.[4]

Second World War

In 1930, the union changed its name to the Fire Brigades Union.


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