A request for information about MTFA Insurance – 17107
RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 REQUEST
I am writing to confirm that the West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information you requested on 10th October 2017.
Please find below a summary of our findings:
I’d like to ask if your firefighters are covered by the force’s insurance in the event of injury or death while attending a terrorist attack – i.e., will they or their family receive compensation?
All firefighters attending any incident are covered by West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) employee liability insurance and personal accident policies.
If not generally available to all firefighters, do you have specialist MTFA teams and do they have this insurance?
At any incident identified as being an unlawful act, including MTFA, the role of the West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) will be lifesaving through:
- search and rescue operations;
- Detection, Identification and Monitoring (DIM) of hazardous materials;
- co-ordinated support to the Ambulance Service, and
- the decontamination of casualties and emergency services personnel, where required, in collaboration with the Ambulance Service.
It is recognised that the tactical and operational response to each unlawful act incident will be dependent on the unique circumstances that incident commanders are confronted with. Any response will be undertaken only when it is safe to do so and then only by fully trained personnel wearing the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Further detail on WMFS response to MTFA is exempt under Section 24 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – release of information would prejudice National Security.
The reasons why the exemptions apply:
As a major emergency service provider we have to ensure that the information we hold in relation to National Resilience is appropriately protected. The release of this information has wider implications that have to be considered and if this information was disclosed it may prejudice our ability to maintain our own security and national security. Maintaining security and ensuring public safety takes precedence over this request.
Given the current security climate in the UK we need to take a precautionary approach. We have also considered that if this information was released and was then put together with other available information it could potentially cause damage.
We have also considered the guidance from the Centre for Protecting the National Infrastructure on the disclosure of sensitive information. The guidance states the following:
“National security is paramount and should be considered carefully in any decision to release or disseminate information to the public”
Public Interest Test Reasons
West Midlands Fire Service has concluded that the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The decision is based on the following reasons:
In assessing the balance of the public interest test, we are particularly mindful that the Act works on an ‘applicant blind’ basis and that by providing information to one person we then set a precedent for making it available to anyone else who asks for it.
There is a strong public interest in the Authority doing all it can to protect the health and safety of members of the public and WMFS staff. Disclosing the information would undermine this purpose and would not be in the public interest.
The insurance provided to all firefighters who respond to any incident is detailed in Q1 above.
Q 3 Request
In the event of injury while attending an MTFA, meaning they are no longer able to work, would your firefighters or specialist teams receive a full pension?
The Firefighters’ Pension Schemes have clarified the definition of ‘permanent’ in respect of medical disability. This is now defined as ‘disabled until normal pensionable age’. The removal of the compulsory retirement age of 55 now means this could be until 60, or until 30 years’ service is reached. The Firefighters’ Pension Schemes also changed the definition of ‘regular firefighter’ so there is no longer a need to be fit for full firefighting duties.
The application of Equality Act 2010 places a requirement on WMFS to ensure that, where possible, reasonable adjustments are made to enable an individual to remain in their current post; or, if this is not possible, to consider redeployment to suitable alternative employment.
If an employee is likely to remain incapacitated due to medical reasons until retirement age, it may be possible to consider retirement on medical grounds. The Occupational Health Practitioner will make a recommendation on redeployment or ill health retirement, taking into consideration any GP or specialist reports and their own assessment of the case. The medical records will then be sent to an independent consultant for consideration (Independent Qualified Medical Practitioner – IQMP). Ill-health retirement (with a pension) will be subject to confirmation from the IQMP that an individual meets the criteria for ill-health retirement under the provisions of the pension scheme.
If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision please write to The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW
Further information concerning Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Information Commissioner website at either the following link: https://ico.org.uk/ or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF