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25 September 2013, 17:26
Hampshire, Dorset and West Sussex firefighters have joined a four-hour nationwide strike in a dispute over changes to pensions.
Members of the Fire Brigades' Union (FBU) walked out between 12pm and 4pm on Wednesday 25 September, refusing to respond to minor calls like flooding or trapped animals. They would still have gone to major emergencies but none were reported.
The FBU claimed government changes to firefighters' pensions would mean front-line staff having to work until they're 60.
In a statement following the industrial action, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said:
"The Fire Brigade Union's (FBU) industrial action finished today at 4pm and we are pleased to confirm that fire fighting crews are now back on duty and providing emergency cover to homes and businesses across Hampshire.
"During the strike action we had 37 fire appliances available to respond to emergencies across Hampshire, which is over 50% of what we would normally have available. The majority of our appliances were crewed by our retained duty system firefighters and some of our non-station operational staff.
"With this number of appliances available we were able to maintain our 20 minute response time to emergency incidents, as planned and respond to a number of incidents throughout the county, well within this time.
"We would like to thank all members of our local communities and businesses for taking extra care during the strike."
Dorset Fire and Rescue say they dealt with 62 calls (34 of which were 999 calls) and available fire engines were also moved 19 times to ensure available fire cover across the county. They say all crews were deployed by their fire control team in the usual manner.
Chief Fire Officer, Darran Gunter said:
"As a service we have been busy this afternoon.
"However, I would like to thank Dorset's residents for heeding the warnings to take extra care and stay safe. We found our
contingency arrangements satisfactory, we used our non-striking staff to crew 22 fire engines across the county. Normal service has now been resumed but as always we encourage he public to think about their safety and ensure they have working smoke alarms in their homes.
"This continues to be a difficult period for staff and I am grateful for the dignity displayed by them all. At this time, we are not aware of any further dates for strike action."
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said:
"This was solidly supported strike action by firefighters across England and Wales. It has demonstrated their anger and their determination.
"This strike was a last resort after the government refused to negotiate - and a warning shot that firefighters are serious about keeping a fair, safe and workable pensions scheme.
"Firefighters across the country are reporting a fantastic response from the public, who seem to understand that the government's proposals on pensions are ludicrous.
"We haven't ruled out further industrial action, but let's hope common sense wins out, public safety is put first and the government comes back open to compromise."