Do you want us to fight fires at 60?

Morecambe firefighters on the Fire Brigades Union official picket at Morecambe Community Fire Station on Wednesday.
Morecambe firefighters on the Fire Brigades Union official picket at Morecambe Community Fire Station on Wednesday.
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Morecambe fire fighters joined a nationwide four-hour industrial action over pensions.

A picket line of nine fire officers stood outside the Westgate station on Wednesday in protest over government plans to raise their retirement age to 60.

The strikers said changes would mean more fire fighters tackling blazes well into their 50s which would be dangerous to the public as well as themselves.

“They are moving the goalpoasts massively,” said a Morecambe fire crew member, who wished to remain anonymous.

“They are expecting people to work longer yet a government report says the number of fire fighters able to pass their fitness test over the age of 55 will be minimal, and there are no redeployment opportunities in the fire service.

“They’re also halving the number of people at Morecambe station from 28 to 14 in February.” Staff were offered a £1,000 payment by Lancashire Fire and Rescue to remain in work during the noon to 4pm strike period. A Lancashire Fire and Rescue spokesman said this was “a principled payment to compensate people for coming in and covering, some on overtime, to make sure the public is protected”.

There were no major fire call-outs in the Morecambe and Lancaster area during the industrial action. Six fire crew remained on duty at Morecambe Fire Station.

Chris Kenny, Chief Fire Officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: “I sincerely hope that the Government and FBU (Fire Brigades Union) will soon arrive at a negotiated settlement and we have written to the Government to urge progress.”