Firefighters are ready to take strike action

Eastbourne fire station, Whitley Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex
Eastbourne fire station, Whitley Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service says it is ready for possible industrial action.

Although no dates have been announced yet by the Fire Brigades Union, the organisation says it has reassessed its resources and is getting prepared.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union have voted in favour of strike action in a national dispute over pensions.

Chief fire officer with East Sussex Fire and Service Des Prichard said, “This is a national dispute over pensions which we do not have the power to resolve at a local level.

“We do not know if or when any industrial action will take place, however we have been preparing for the possibility of this for many months.

“We have put in place a number of measures to help keep those living, visiting or working in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove safe.

“ESFRS has carefully assessed its resources, including the availability of operational personnel who are not members of the Fire Brigades Union. If there is industrial action, the most important thing to remember is that if you do have a fire, get out of the building, stay out and call 999.

“We will continue to respond to emergency calls and will obviously prioritise those where lives are at risk.

“We would also ask for the assistance of the public at this time. Whether it is in your home or your workplace, there are ways to reduce the risks of fire.

“Safety advice can be found on our website and we will provide additional information in the coming days.

“East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is fully committed to keeping communities safe and responding to emergencies if there is industrial action by firefighters.”

Firefighters voted to strike against what it called the government’s “unworkable pension scheme proposals that could lead to thousands facing the sack simply for getting older”.

Some 18,277 members voted in favour of national strike action in ballot results.

FBU members decided to ballot after almost two years of negotiations and union chief Matt Wrack said, “We cannot expect large numbers of firefighters in their late 50s to fight fires and rescue families without creating danger to the public and firefighters. We have repeatedly raised safety concerns and provided strong evidence to back it up but the government isn’t listening.”