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Firefighters strike for second time in two days tonight

By WMNlynbarton  |  Posted: December 14, 2013


Firefighters will go on strike tonight

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Westcountry fire fighters will go on strike from 6pm this evening as part of their long running dispute over pensions.

Crews will walk out across the UK for four hours, marking the second time in two days that they have staged industrial action.

Bosses of the fire and rescue service covering Devon and Somerset and the service covering Cornwall have issued appeals for people to be mindful of the strike and only dial 999 when necessary.

Last night in the former area, there were just three calls; a fire in the open in Plymouth, a vehicle fire attended by Taunton and Bridgwater crews and a chimney fire in Crewkerne.

A spokesman said: “ The Service would like to thank the public for not making unnecessary 999 calls during this time.”

In Cornwall, a fire crew attended one incident during last night’s strike, a chimney fire near Marazion at 6.30pm.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Des Tidbury urged people to take extra care.

“The most important thing to remember is that if you do have a fire, get out of the building, stay out and call 999 – you will get an emergency response.

“We will continue to respond to emergency calls and will obviously prioritise those where lives are at risk.”

Fire Brigade Union members have gone on strike four times in recent months in protest against changes to pensions and their retirement age.

The union argues that older firefighters face losing their jobs if they fail fitness tests as part of changes to the pension age from 55 to 60.

The general secretary, Matt Wrack, said he could not rule out strikes next year.

“It's now been almost two months since the government has been willing to meet us for negotiations despite several invitations from us.

“Until they do, and until they start to actually resolve the dispute, we'll keep up the pressure for the sake of public safety and our members' pensions.

“In a week when the full details of a £7,600 pay rise for MPs – which will also increase their pensions – emerged, firefighters' anger at the government's unworkable, unaffordable and unfair proposals will be even greater.

“No firefighter wants to strike, but we cannot allow the government's ludicrous proposals, and outright hypocrisy, to stand.”

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