Firefighters are striking in protest over government plans to change pensions, raising their retirement age to 60.
Cumbria’s Fire and Rescue teams have downed tools for most of the weekend, claiming the increased retirement age is unfair and poses a risk to service personnel and the public.
The current retirement age for firefighters is 55, and the increase has sparked fears that older personnel will be unable to meet the physical demands of the job - endangering themselves and the public.
The strikes will take place from today, Friday, May 2, between 12-5pm, Saturday 2pm-2am and Sunday 10am-4pm, although the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) has agreed firefighters will respond to major incidents.
Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the government is still burying its head in the sand.
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“Several members of government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.
“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”
Cumbria County Council have confirmed that they have a response capability during the strikes, but the service is drastically reduced.
They are urging members of the public to ensure they have working smoke alarms in their homes, are vigilant when cooking and plan an escape route in case a fire breaks out in the coming days.
The Council states if an emergency occurs continue to call 999, but unnecessary calls should be avoided at all costs.