VIDEO: Fire fighters on strike

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Morecambe fire fighters today joined the nationwide four-hour industrial action over pensions.

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

Morecambe fire fighters on the Fire Brigades Union official picket at Morecambe Community Fire Station on Wednesday.

Morecambe fire fighters on the Fire Brigades Union official picket at Morecambe Community Fire Station on Wednesday.

Passing cars beeped their horns in support of the strikers, who say changes would mean more fire fighters tackling blazes well into their 50s.

This, they say, 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.

“This means I might get pulled out (of the service) due to capability, have to find another job and not get my pension until I’m 68.

“They’re also halving the number of people at Morecambe station from 28 to 14 in February.

“We feel as a group if we don’t pull together all our terms and conditions are going to be taken away.”

Staff were offered a £1,000 payment by Lancashire Fire and Rescue to remain in work during the noon to 4pm strike period on Wednesday.

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”.

He said 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 while the strike was taking place.

Chris Kenny, Chief Fire Officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: “The focus for the service in the short term will be on providing the best service possible with the resources available. In the longer term the challenge will be in bringing our workforce together after the dispute to re-establish the most professional service possible.

“Even at this late stage I sincerely hope that Government and FBU will soon arrive at a negotiated settlement and we have written to the Government to urge progress.”

In our video Steve Harman, FBU (Fire Brigades Union) Brigade Secretary, explains more about the reason for today’s strike.