Around 100 firefighters gathered outside County Hall in Northampton today (Friday) during another strike as the row over pensions continues.
Today’s strike was just one of many that have taken place over the last few months as members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) walked out in protest again as a result of the ongoing national dispute with the government over pensions.
Gary Mitchell, regional secretary of region six (East Midlands) FBU, said: “The Government is attacking firefighter pensions.
“We have been in talks and negotiations with them for months but they just bury their heads in the sand.”
Mr Mitchell said firefighters have just had another increase in their pension payments for the third year running, meaning they pay around £350 to £400 per month out of their salaries.
He said: “They want firefighters to work until they’re 60 which means taking fitness tests to see if you’re fit enough.
“If you can’t continue to work, we would have no job or have our pension cut in half.
“We want a pension scheme which is fair for firefighters and fair for the taxpayer.
“No firefighter wants to be on strike. It’s not in our nature. We our not greedy people but we have to think about our families and our future.”
Firefighters went out on strike from 12 until 5pm today.
Further strikes are planned tomorrow (Saturday) from 2pm to 2am and on Sunday from 10am to 3pm.
Martyn Emberson, chief fire officer, said: “This is a national dispute, not a local one.
“I would like to see it resolved so they can all get back to work.”
Northamptonshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is reminding residents how to reduce the risk of fire in the home.
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service has contingency plans in place to ensure disruption to kept to a minimum. Planning has been underway for several months, both within the service and in partnership with neighbouring authorities, to ensure it can continue to respond to emergencies during this time.
Residents are also reminded that there are a few simple steps they can follow to reduce the risk of fire in the home:
1. Protect your home with working smoke alarms, install smoke alarms on every floor and test them on the 1st of every month.
2. Take extra care in the kitchen as over 50% of accidental house fires start in the kitchen.
3. Check your electrics, check and maintain your appliances, cables and plugs.
4. If you smoke, make sure you ‘Put them out, Right out.’
5. Make sure you all sleep safe - have a bedtime routine of unplugging and switching off before closing doors on your way to bed.
6. Plan a safe escape and make sure everyone in your home knows how to get out in an emergency.
7. If you plan to enjoy the weekend away from home, please ensure that your property is secure, doors locked, windows closed ( locked if possible) and your cooking appliances are switched off.
8. Finally, if you are planning DIY this weekend, think safety, think about the right tools for the job and think about what is the right protective equipment, as sadly many fatal and serious injury related accidents occur in the home
Head of Prevention and Community Protection Mark Ainge said: “This is good advice for everyone to follow at all times.
“We have contingency plans in place and will be continuing to respond to emergencies, but this is a testing time for fire and rescue services across the country so anything that can be done to reduce the risk of fire is definitely a good idea.
“Resources may be stretched so we would also like to remind people that as always, only call 999 in an emergency.”
For more advice about how to reduce the risks of fire, people can visit www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/fire
They can also follow the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service Twitter account @northantsfire and Like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/northantsfire.