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UPDATED: Firefighters strike over retirement rules
2:30pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
FIREFIGHTERS went out on strike following a row over pensions and retirement age.
Members of the Fire Brigades’ Union claim lives will be put in danger if firefighters are expected to carry on until they are 60.
And they are angry that despite contributing more to pension funds than other public sector workers they are now being told to work 40 years rather than 30 before they can get a full pension.
Brigade organiser Kieran Davis, speaking from the picket line outside Colchester Fire Station earlier today, said: “Without doubt lives will be at risk.
“Someone approaching 60 does not have the same strength or fitness and firefighting is a young man’s game.
“Climbing up ladders and saving people from burning buildings at 55 plus does not make sense and the Government’s own research agrees.”
He denied this was about pay and insisted firefighters who put their lives on the line were entitled to a fair deal and they just want the Government to sit back down and resolve the dispute.
He said: “They want employee contributions to go up from eight per cent to more than 13 per cent and for us to work 40 years rather than 30 for a full pension - so you would have to start by the time you were 20.
“We get the lowest ratio of contributions employee to employer and there is strong feeling this is not right.”
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service claimed appropriate cover was in place.
However people were urged to take more care and businesses with automatic alarms were told they would need to call because the alarms would not be responded to automatically.
Fire cover throughout the four hours - from noon until 4pm today - was provided across alternative sites while the fire stations are closed.
ECFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Bill said: “Thanks to our resilience crews, the service attended all of the calls it would have done under normal circumstances.”
Working crews were called to three false alarms from automatic fire alarm systems, one false alarm and a flooding incident in a ground floor flat in Clacton.
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