Fire fighters in Gloucestershire set for walkout over pensions
Fire fighters across Gloucestershire are set to go on strike this afternoon amidst unrest over pension arrangements.
Around 130 full-time staff and a smaller number of retained fire fighters in the county are ready for a four-hour walkout between noon and 4pm.
Unions said the action was a “warning shot to the government” over members’ anger about making them work until they are 60.
Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it would provide an emergency response service throughout the strike period.
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Chief Fire Officer Jon Hall said: “During this short period of industrial unrest we will be providing an effective and professional service in the county.
“However, we are also asking business owners to make sure their properties are as safe as they possibly can be in case there is any small delay in our response.
“Now is the time to make absolutely sure they have thought through their own fire safety policies.”
Fire fighters across England and Wales are participating in the walkout.
Each of the 46 local fire services in England and three in Wales have contingency plans to provide cover and 999 calls will be answered.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) claims many firefighters will not be fit enough to work to the retirement age of 60, and says they could lose thousands of pounds a year if they retire early.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "This initial strike is a warning shot to government.
"Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions.
"Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.
"It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires, and rescue families, in their late-50s; the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.
"None of us want a strike but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety."
The government says the offer to firefighters is one of the "most generous in the public sector" and brings their pension age into line with the police and armed forces.