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Firefighters strike in pensions row
FIREFIGHTERS in England and Wales will strike for the second time in two days as part of their long-running row with the Government over pensions.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will mount picket lines from 6pm to 10pm - with the threat of further action in the new year.
It comes just hours after a similar strike ended at 10pm last night.
Some brigades said they were quieter than normal for a Friday evening, with many areas hit by rain, which can reduce the number of fire-related incidents.
London Fire Brigade has urged people to buy takeaway food during the strike if they had been drinking at Christmas events to reduce the threat of kitchen fires.
FBU members have now taken strike action five times in recent months in protest at changes to pensions and their retirement age, which the union argues threatens older firefighters with losing their jobs or having reduced pensions.
General secretary Matt Wrack said that until the Government meets the FBU for negotiations, the union will "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. We'll keep on fighting until the Government sees sense and comes back to negotiations."
The union said firefighters in their late 50s face the prospect of being sacked or seeing their pension reduced by almost half.
Fire minister Brandon Lewis said: "Once again the FBU's actions cast doubt over their claims that they are serious about reaching a negotiated settlement.
"I hosted discussions on fitness issues with the FBU and other organisations on December 4. “The discussions were constructive but, whilst the consultation was still running, the FBU announced further strikes.
"Firefighters will still get one of the most generous public pension schemes.
“Less than a quarter of firefighters will see any change in their retirement age in 2015 and more firefighters' pensions are protected than in any other large public service workforce."
London Fire Brigade deployed 27 fire engines to deal with emergencies during last night's industrial action.
And Kent Fire and Rescue Service attended two road accidents and cut out an injured woman from a fire.
They also dealt with a chimney fire and had a number of calls about automatic alarms.
KFRS Chief Executive Ann Millington said: “Thanks to the public for heeding safety warnings and to all our staff who worked to keep the county safe during the strike.”
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