Britain and Ireland’s largest union Unite accused the government of ‘playing with fire’ over the privatisation of the Defence Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced today (Thursday 18 July) that Capita would take over the running of the armed forces’ firefighting service at bases across the UK and Cyprus.

Responding to the announcement made in a written ministerial statement to parliament, Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The government is playing with fire by handing over the armed forces’ fire and rescue service to the controversial outsourcer Capita.

“The Defence Fire and Rescue Service is a national security critical service which plays a vital role in supporting our armed forces and keeping Ministry of Defence bases safe.

“Awarding the firefighter contract to Capita, rather than retaining it in-house, smacks of a desperation by ministers to prop up the under fire outsourcer and avoid another Carillion style collapse.

“Ultimately the losers will be our armed forces who will receive a poorer, more fragmented service and the dedicated fire and rescue professionals who now face the prospect of cuts as Capita looks to turn a quick profit from an essential service.

“Minsters have serious questions to answer over this whole process and whether taxpayers’ money was used in a deal to get Serco to drop one of its court actions which would have halted this privatisation.

“When will ministers learn the lessons of Carillion? The government needs to reverse this decision and drop its outsourcing obsession which is seeing services of national importance proffered up to the lowest bidder.”


For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 [email protected]

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.