Firefighters to strike over pensions

Firefighters on strike in Eastbourne
Firefighters on strike in Eastbourne

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is issuing a safety warning following the confirmation of a 24-hour strike by members of the Fire Brigades Union.

Firefighters in England announced a further 24 hour strike to take place from 9am on Tuesday December 9.

The strike is following a three-year dispute over pensions with the government.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said, “Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action today as a direct result of the Westminster government’s failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.

“Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.

“We need to be clear. We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal – this dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged.

“It is sickening that the only part of the UK where the fire minister refuses to engage in genuine negotiations is England. We cannot accept that firefighters in England will be penalised simply because the Westminster government refuses to consider the evidence or even read its own reports on the risks to firefighter fitness related to aging. We have won the argument on this issue for the past three years. We face a government which refuses to negotiate or even to listen to reason. Therefore this fight will carry on.”

During the 24 hour strike, East Sussex Fire Service said contingency crews will be on duty, ready to respond to emergencies but there will be reduced levels of cover.

With winter setting in, people are being asked to do what they can to reduce the need to call 999.

A fire service spokesman said, “Roads can quickly become more treacherous during the winter. Make sure you are prepared by checking your vehicle is roadworthy. Tyres, windscreen wipers and lights should all be in good condition – replace anything which isn’t working.

“Remember to slow down and keep your distance from the car in front of you - it takes much longer to stop in the wet and fallen leaves can be just as slippery and treacherous for motorists as driving on ice.

“If your vehicle loses its grip, or “aquaplanes” on surface water take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Don’t brake or steer suddenly because you have no control of the steering or brakes.

“Staying alert and preparing for the worst can help keep you, your family and your property safe.

“During extreme weather, we prioritise calls where lives may be at risk through a risk of fire or other emergencies.

“For example when flood water is affecting electrics in buildings, where a building or structure has become dangerous to passers-by or when there has been a road traffic collision.

“Where lives are not at immediate risk, a number of other organisations may be better placed to help.”

Find out who you can call if you spot blocked drains or fallen trees here.