Firefighters 1992 scheme
If you leave your employment as a firefighter and you
- have at least 2 years' pensionable service or, if less, have had a transfer of personal pension rights into the FPS1992, and
- are not eligible for immediate payment of an age retirement pension because you are not old enough and/or do not have the required length of service, and
- are not retiring on grounds of ill-health,
then you would be entitled to a deferred pension. You would also be entitled to a deferred pension if you opt out of the FPS1992 while still in employment provided you have at least 2 years' pensionable service or have had a personal pension transfer into the FPS1992.
A deferred pension is calculated by first assessing the "hypothetical" pension you would have received if your pensionable service had been continuous to normal pension age (55) or to age 60 for a firefighter in the role of Station Manager B and above. Then the hypothetical pension is "pro rated" according to the period actually served.
For example if you would have completed 30 years at normal pension age and your average pensionable pay at the date you leave is £27,000, the first part of the assessment of the deferred pension would be to work out the hypothetical pension as follows –
(20 x 1/60) + (10 x 2/60) x £27,000 = 40/60 x £27,000 = £18,000.00 a year
If your actual pensionable service at the date of leaving was 5 years, then the deferred pension would be 5/30ths of the hypothetical pension –
5/30 x £18,000 = £3,000.00 a year.
Part of the annual pension can be commuted to provide a lump sum if you wish – see "Commutation".
Any part-time service would be taken into account after the whole-time deferred pension has been assessed – see "Adjustment for part-time service".
If, in the previous example, 3 of the 5 years you had served were whole-time and 2 were half-time, the part-time deferred pension would be:
3 + (1/2 x 2)
5 × £3,000.00 = £2,400.00 a year
A deferred pension is put into payment at age 60. It can be paid earlier if you become permanently disabled for performing duties appropriate to your former role. Or, if you wish, it could form the basis of a transfer value paid to some other pension scheme.
If you do not want to be a member of the FPS1992 you can opt out at any time by giving written notice to the authority. The notice would take effect from the following pay day.
Under FPS1992 rules, a member:
- with less than 3 months' service when the notice takes effect would receive a refund of any contributions he/she had paid;
- with 3 months' or more but less than 2 years' qualifying service, would have a choice of a refund or a transfer of accrued pension rights to another pension arrangement;
- with 2 or more years' service would have entitlement to a deferred pension or a transfer of accrued rights to another pension arrangement.
Because the FPS1992 became a closed pension scheme in April 2006, a person who opts out now will usually have more than 2 years' service and so would qualify for the deferred pension or transfer option.
On opting out, you would cease to have any further cover under the FPS1992 (other than that provided by any deferred pension). You would, however, continue to be covered by the provisions of the Firefighters' Compensation Scheme in the event of a qualifying injury.
If you subsequently change your mind and wish to rejoin the FPS1992 you would not be permitted to do so. Instead, according to your eligibility, you would be allowed to join another suitable pension scheme provided by the fire and rescue authority. Also, under “automatic enrolment” requirements introduced by the Pensions Act 2008 and which impact on all UK employers, the authority will have to periodically re-enrol you into a pension scheme. (You would have the right to opt out again if you wish.)
Seek independent financial advice if you are thinking about opting out of the FPS1992.
You would save the cost of contributions but would probably pay more by way of tax (contributions attract tax relief). You and your dependants would cease to have the cover which active membership of the FPS1992 provides.
You will be automatically opted back in to the scheme on your Fire and Rescue Authorities auto enrolment re-enrolment date. If you are either re-enrolled or choose to opt back in to the scheme you may join the FPS2015 and not FPS1992, depending on your protection status.
Transfer of pension rights out of scheme
If you leave the FPS1992 having sufficient service to qualify for a pension but are not eligible for immediate payment because you are not old enough nor retiring on grounds of ill-health, as an alternative to a deferred pension you could request that your pension rights should be transferred to some other pension arrangement. A transfer value, a sum representing the capital value of your pension rights, would be assessed in accordance with guidance provided by the Scheme Actuary and offered to the managers of your new pension scheme. The transfer would take place only if you so instruct and if the fire and rescue authority are satisfied that the new scheme has the necessary approval of HM Revenue and Customs.
Appeals & complaints
The Pensions Advisory Service ("TPAS")
TPAS is an independent voluntary organisation which provides information and guidance on pension matters. They are available at any time to assist occupational pension scheme members and beneficiaries in connection with any pension query they may have or any difficulty which they have failed to resolve with pension scheme administrators. Their service is free. TPAS cannot enforce pensions action but, if felt appropriate, could recommend a person to put his/her case to the Pensions Ombudsman. They can be contacted at:
The Pensions Advisory Service,
11, Belgrave Road,
London, SW1V 1RB
Telephone helpline: 0300 123 1047
The Pension Ombudsman
The Pensions Ombudsman can investigate a pension scheme member's complaint of maladministration or a dispute of fact or law between a scheme member and pension scheme managers or employer. However, the Ombudsman cannot help if court proceedings have begun in respect of the dispute, under any of the FBS rules (1992/2006 or 2015).
The Ombudsman will expect the case to have first been put through Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures. Also, a complainant who writes to the Ombudsman direct will normally be requested to have the case dealt with initially by The Pensions Advisory Service.
The Pensions Ombudsman can be contacted at:
The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman,
11 Belgrave Road,
London, SW1V 1RB
Telephone: 020 7630 2200
The Pension Regulator
The Pensions Regulator is a regulatory body which came into existence on 6 April 2005 having been set up under the Pensions Act 2004 (replacing the earlier Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority). It ensures that pension scheme members' interests are protected and that schemes comply with the law.
For example, the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 includes requirements for the governance and administration of public service schemes (including FPS 1992, 2006 and 2015), and for oversight by The Pensions Regulator. Fire and rescue authorities must comply with The Pension Regulator's Code of Practice No.14 which sets out a framework for governance and administration.
At central level there must be a Scheme Advisory Board and at local level a Pension Board with responsibility for assisting the authority ("scheme manager") to comply with Scheme regulations and other legislation relating to the governance of the Scheme.
The Local Pension Board must have an equal number of employee and employer representatives, a minimum of 4 in total, 2 from each side. They must be conversant with the Scheme rules and have an understanding of the law relating to pensions. It is not a decision-making board although it can review decisions made under the Scheme rules.
At the time of writing this guide, some of the Pensions Regulator's requirements for the Firefighters' Pension Schemes are still in draft form, but your fire and rescue authority can keep you informed about local arrangements
The Pensions Regulator deals with issues about pension schemes as a whole. It does not deal with queries about an individual’s pension benefits but recommends that a person seeking free information and advice on all types of pensions should approach The Pensions Advisory Service.