The assistant chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue has thanked people in the county for staying safe and ensuring a peaceful afternoon during a four hour strike by firefighters
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called out its members on strike today between noon and 4pm as the result of a dispute over changes to firefighters’ pension arrangements.
Picket lines were formed outside a number of fire stations and people in the county were warned that the fire service would be “stretched” during the period of the strike.
Dawn Whittaker, assistant chief fire officer for Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue, said the strike period had passed without any major incident.
She said: “We are really grateful that members of the public followed our safety advice and helped contribute to a peaceful afternoon.”
Nick Ferrison, FBU branch chairman for The Mounts Fire Station, said firefighters felt they had no choice but to strike as they could not be expected to work until they were 60 as most would not be able to keep up the high fitness levels required to do the job.
He said: “None of us here wants to be going on strike. We would like to decide this around the negotiating table but our employers don’t want to do that.
“This is a warning shot to the Government and hopefully it will be the last time we have to do this.
“We are not asking for anything extra, we just want to keep the rights we signed up for. You can’t expect most firefighters to be doing the job at the age of 60, some people will be able to do it, but most won’.
Fire minister Brandon Lewis insisted the pensions package was still “one of the most generous” schemes in the public sector.
He said firefighters earning £29,000 and retiring at 60 after a full career would receive a £19,000-a-year payout rising to £26,000 with the state pension.
Mr Lewis said: “The firefighter pension age of 60 was introduced in 2006 and is in line with the police and armed forces.
“We have been clear with the Fire Brigades Union our pension reforms are not introducing a national fitness standard.
“Firefighter fitness remains a local fire and rescue authority matter. Government is helping local employers and the union to work together on this issue.”