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Bull & Ors v Nottinghamshire & City of Nottingham Fire Rescue Authority, Court of Appeal, 28 February 2007

22 March 2007
The issues

Fire fighters – contractual duties – fire brigade – whether co-responding part of an employees contractual duties.

The facts

The Fire Authorities had sought to ask fire fighters, as part of their ordinary duties, to administer first aid and basic medical intervention when attending emergencies and in situations where ambulance crews could not attend promptly. Declarations had been made in favour of the fire fighters that these duties (“co-responding duties”) did not form part of their contractual duties. The Fire Authorities appealed against those declarations seeking declarations to the contrary.

The decision

The Judge had found that the co-responding duties were beyond the scope of a fire fighter’s contractual obligations and in so doing called in support the fact that the Grey Book, which was incorporated into the contracts of employment, made no specific mention of co-responding duties. The Judge had been correct. The Grey Book, which set out in detail a fire fighter’s duties, had been amended following a pay dispute, which was settled some 3 years before. The Grey Book, as amended, repeated the terms of the settlement of the dispute and was important in construing the contract of employment. The Fire Brigade Union had always opposed the concept of co-responding and in the settlement of the pay dispute no concessions were made in that regard. The co-responding duties were so different from what common sense would hold that fire fighters were expected to do, that it could only be the case that such duties could be imposed expressly and not by influence.

Appeal dismissed.

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