FIREFIGHTERS in Burton and South Derbyshire insist they took part in a national strike to protect the lives of the public in future.
Crews in Burton, Swadlincote, Barton under Needwood and Tutbury walked out between noon and 4pm yesterday to make their feelings known over pension reforms which could see them having to work until they are 60.
Representatives from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) told the Mail that industrial action was undertaken with a ‘heavy heart’, but in a bid to make sure lives would not be put at risk.
Robert Barber, Swadlincote FBU branch representative, said: “We were all astonished by the level of support that we saw during the strike.
“We all took part in strike action with a heavy heart but felt we had to do it to make sure that in the future members of the public are kept safe and so are firefighters.
“The Government wants us to work until we are 60 when its own research has shown that firefighters will not be physically able to work at the same level as when they are 55.
“It can only be hoped that this will be the only strike action and negotiations resume and reach the right conclusion for all.”
Mr Barber’s comments were echoed by his counterpart in Burton, Pete Wildman.
He told the Mail: “We have had a lot of public support and had anyone approached us we would have been more than willing to talk.
“We fully expected to be vilified for what we decided to do when we voted for strike action, but we felt that we had a very strong case.
“The message is simple – we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety and the current pension deal would mean that would be the case.”
Services in Staffordshire and Derbyshire revealed that no major incidetns had taken place in Burton and South Derbyshire during the strike.