LAST Wednesday, along with many other stations in the country, Shoreham fire fighters went on strike.
For four hours between 12pm and 4pm fire-fighters walked out of their station in protest against the proposed pension changes.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced they would be going on strike as the new pensions would make members work up to 60.
There are nine fire-fighters at Shoreham fire station, four of these are FBU members and went on strike.
The other half of the crew are retained duty system fire-fighters and went to cover elsewhere in Sussex during the strike action.
The RDS fire-fighters as well as other trained non-FBU staff were called during the strike to implement the WSFRS contingency plan.
Richard Coomber, 42, Shoreham fire-fighter, FBU, said: “We are quite happy to work until 60 but it’s keeping fit that’s a problem and it’s keeping fit to the standard required.
“A review was made, called for by the Government, which found that most 55- to 60-year-olds wouldn’t be able to make the fitness standards required of a fire-fighter.
“None of us want to go on strike but we are fighting for what is fair for us. We pay a good amount of our wage into our pension and we want to negotiate with the Government but they won’t talk anymore.”
Richard added: “Their offer is if we don’t make the fitness standards they will move us into another role but there aren’t really any of those roles for us to do so there is the potential for us to get sacked. If we were sacked we would not received our pension. Now they said they won’t sack us but that they would reduce our pension so we would lose a fifth.
“I’m happy to work until I’m 60 but should not be penalised if I can’t work.
““I hope people understand why we are doing this. It’s not to line our pockets. This job is strenuous both physically and mentally.
“This is not just for us but for the benefit of the public as well. At 60 this could be a difficult job to do and so that would be at the detriment to public safety.
“We are here for the community but we want what is fair for us.”
Richard joined Shoreham fire station 14 years ago. Speaking of his reason for becoming a fire-fighter, he said: “I joined up to help people; it is dangerous work but also a lot of it is prevention work. Prevention work is about helping people feel safer and be safer by educating. Obviously we all join up because we want to run into fires but a lot of the work is prevention.”
Steyning, on the other hand, is a retained station and members of the RFU and therefore had no strike policy.
Speaking before strike action, Gary Towson, Shoreham fire station, said: “It will be business as normal in some ways, we will just be moving people around to different areas. Not everyone will be on strike. Some at Shoreham are not in the FBU, so some will be on strike and some won’t, it’s a mixed picture. I am confident we will have a service, though it won’t be the normal service but we will move people to where they need to be and carry on with the day.”