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Firefighters on strike over the Bank Holiday

A Bexhill firefighting crew answer an emergency call during an day open day last year

A Bexhill firefighting crew answer an emergency call during an day open day last year

The county’s chief fire officer has reassured locals life-threatening emergency 999 calls will not go unanswered this weekend despite a strike.

Local members of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) will join colleagues from across the country in taking industrial action over the Bank Holiday weekend due to an on-going row over pensions.

The strikes will take place today (Friday) between noon and 6pm, tomorrow from 2pm until 2am and Sunday between 10am and 3pm.

It will be the latest in a string of strikes since last September which have resulted from the dispute – with union members angry at government plans to change pensions, including making firefighters work until 60 rather than the current retirement age of 55.

News of the strike has led to concern among locals that any emergency this weekend will not get a proper response.

However, East Sussex’s chief fire officer Des Prichard said this would not be the case and urged locals not to worry too much but stressed they should be doing all they can themselves to avoid any fires.

The fire service has posted a list of safety tips online at www.esfrs.org and Mr Prichard said: “We are ready to provide cover during the strike action. “Crews made up of non-FBU members and retained firefighters will respond to emergencies - giving priority to those where lives are at risk.

“While we are committed to doing all we can to protect those who live and work, the level of cover will be reduced and so we need your help to stay safe.”

For its part the union believes it has no alternative but to take industrial action. A spokesman for the FBU said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the Government is still burying its head in the sand. Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”

 

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