Brackley firefighters to vote on taking part in strike today or tomorrow

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Firefighters in south Northants are due to decide if they will take part in national strike action next week.

This week the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) announced it will be calling out its members for four hours from noon on Wednesday, September 25.

Brackley watch manager Mick Hawes said his 15-strong retained crew were set to decide what action they would be taking today, Friday, or tomorrow, Saturday.

The FBU announced on Wednesday the strike would be a ‘shot across the bows,’ warning of further strikes if the Government did not rethink proposed changes to firefighters pensions.

Mr Hawes, a member of the FBU, said: “The issue is they want to change the age limit from 55 to 60. Obviously as you get older you are not as agile and as fit as you once were. The changes mean if, at 57, you were unable to continue you would only get a percentage of your pension because you have made yourself unfit.”

Northants County Council (NCC) have said the dispute is with the Government but is urging businesses and homeowners to check their health and safety fire procedures and fire alarms to minimise the risk of any fire.

During the strike the fire service will not be attending any automatic fire alarms sounding in any non-domestic or commercial premises.

They will only attend confirmed property fires and other life risks such as road traffic collisions.

Anyone who discovers a fire in their premises should continue to dial 999 and the fire and rescue service will attend as soon as possible.

André Gonzalez de Savage, NCC’s councillor for public protection, added they were working with other public agencies and neighbouring fire services and added: “I would like to reassure everyone that robust contingency plans are in place.”

A government review found more than half of current firefighters aged between 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet service fitness standards. Beyond the age of 55, two-thirds fail to meet the standards.

The FBU research has found only a handful of ‘redeployment’ opportunities in the service, meaning mass sackings would be inevitable.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “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.”