DERBYSHIRE: Members of the public to man fire engines

Pictured are Derbyshire firefighters after extinguishing the house blaze at Avondale Road, Inkersall, near Staveley, on Wednesday afternoon, September 18.

Pictured are Derbyshire firefighters after extinguishing the house blaze at Avondale Road, Inkersall, near Staveley, on Wednesday afternoon, September 18.

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Members of the public will be crossing picket lines today to help man fire pumps across Derbyshire - as firefighters go on strike.

Officers across the area took industrial action over pensions and retirement ages on Wednesday, September 25 from noon to 4pm.

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service recruited 32 paid helpers to cope during the strike - but stressed capability to respond to emergencies was reduced.

A spokeswoman for the service said the reserves had received nine days of intensive training but admitted they would not be able to enter burning buildings and were restricted in their driving of fire engines.

She added: “Without the resources from the army Green Goddesses, we have had to provide some sort of service and this is our response but there will be restrictions.”

Chris Tapp, secretary for the Derbyshire Fire Brigades Union said out of the county’s 300 full time firefighters and 300 retained most were set to go on strike.

He added it was a last resort and would act as a “warning to government”

“We full understand everybody is facing difficulties but that’s not a reason to say because it’s happening it has to happen to everybody,” he said.

Planned changes to pensions would impose an increase in members’ contributions and would put firefighters at greater risk of dismissal if they cannot maintain fitness standards.

Mr Tapp said firefighters, who start on a salary of £21,583 rising to £29,000 when trained, worked an average of 42 hours a week doing a range of jobs in the community, fitting smoke alarms, training and fighting blazes.

Under Government plans, firefighters in England will get their full pension at 60, instead of the current 55.

The FBU says that many firefighters would not be able to maintain fitness standards into their late-50s and this would endanger the public, while those retiring early would lose thousands of pounds a year.

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis blasted the strike as “entirely unnecessary and avoidable”.

He added the pensions on offer to firefighters is one of the most generous public service pensions available.