DERBYSHIRE: Reserve crews to save lives

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Members of the public will help save lives if firefighters go on strike.

Derbyshire fire service will call on 65 back-up personnel to tackle blazes, road crashes and other emergencies should its current workforce walk out.

The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) is currently balloting members on industrial action over proposed changes to pensions. The vote closes on August 29.

A Derbyshire fire service spokesman said: “Unlike during previous industrial action, there is no longer any military support available and there are no longer Green Goddesses to be called upon. To ensure the safety of our communities, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Authority (DFRA) will recruit reserve personnel for deployment in the event of strike action. This is purely a precautionary measure with successful recruits only being called upon should industrial action occur.”

Over the past week, scores of people have applied to a major DFRA recruitment drive to find 50 back-up firefighters as well as 15 reserve personnel to drive engines and operate pumps. The recruits will be fully trained and paid £150 per 12-hour shift.

The FBU argues the proposed changes would impose a sharp increase in members’ contributions and put firefighters at greater risk of dismissal without access to a proper pension if they cannot maintain fitness standards as they approach the retirement age of 60. Matt Wrack, the FBU’s general secretary, said he hoped the dispute could be resolved without the need for industrial action and stressed the need for more talks with the Government.