Firefighters in Cornwall on strike tonight and Monday
Firefighters in Cornwall will go on strike today and on Monday in the run-up to bonfire night.
With fireworks celebrations planned across the county the strike has caused concern.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted in favour of a national strike over proposed pension reforms which would see some firefighters in active service until they are 60-years-old.
The minister responsible for the fire service said the dispute was “unnecessary and damaging”.
Cornwall Council, which runs the fire service in the county, said it will do “everything it can” to keep the public safe during the strike.
The dispute centres on a government desire to raise the retirement age for firefighters to 60.
Tim Edwards, chairman of the FBU in Cornwall, said: “We don’t agree it’s reasonable for frontline firefighters to be manning appliances at 60 year of age.
“You are putting the public and firefighters themselves at risk because of the demands of the job.
“When you are called out to an emergency you are in full fire-fighting kit going into temperatures of well over 100 degrees and you may be required to carry unconscious people out.”
Brandon Lewis MP, the minister responsible for the fire service, said the decision by the FBU to carry out strikes at this time of year was “deeply saddening”.
In an open letter to Matt Wrack, the FBU general secretary, he said: “You appear to have walked away from the negotiating table, undermining all the hard work done by those seeking to find a resolution to this dispute.
“To add to this, you have called strike action at the start of Diwali and the Bonfire season. This is unworthy of a major emergency service union.”
Mr Lewis said the pension scheme for firefighters was one of the most generous in the public sector.
A spokesman for the council said: “Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service will continue to respond to 999 calls and will do everything it can to keep the public safe, including during any national fire strike.”
The strike will take place tonight from 6.30pm to 11pm and on Monday from 6am to 8am.
The FBU said it did not want to put people at risk and a mechanism had been put in place to recall firefighters in the case of a major incident.