Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim, Eamon Scanlon, is calling on the Government to examine the possibility of extending the mandatory retirement age for firefighters.
The current retirement age is 55, with an option to extend that to 58 if they pass a medical. However, many firefighters would like to see this raised to 60, in line with the Gardaí.
Deputy Scanlon raised the issue with the Minister of State for Housing, Planning and Local Government in the Dáil last week.
Deputy Scanlon commented, “The mandatory retirement age is causing major problems for fire services across the country. I have been contacted by a number of full time and retained firefighters in Sligo alone, who would like to see the current situation changed.
“The problem is two-fold; people are living longer lives and do not want to retire as early, but also the number of firefighters who are being forced to retire is creating a major skills shortage in the service. The retirement age for Gardaí is 60, and I think it is reasonable to suggest that, when firefighters want to, and once they pass the relevant health and medical tests, they should be allowed to continue working until that age as well.
“Mandatory retirement has left many fire stations with recruitment and retention problems, and it’s leading to people with significant expertise and experience being forced out of the service. I recognise the physical demands of the job, but if a person is deemed physically and mentally fit to work, they should have the option to do so.
“Firefighters, like members of the Gardaí, should have the option to continue to serve until they reach 60 years of age. Mandatory retirement, set arbitrarily on age and not on his or her capability to do the job, constitutes a kind of barrier to an age-friendly society.
“The agreement reached between the Local Government Management Services Board and the SIPTU and ATGWU trade unions is now more than 15 years old. I would like the Government to explore the option of revisiting this agreement with the unions in light of the concerns of firefighters here in Sligo and right across the country”.