The strike, to take place from 07:00 on Wednesday 25th February until 07:00 on Thursday 26th February, is part of a long-running dispute about changes to firefighters’ pensions. Members of the Fire Brigade Union will take to the picket lines with non-FBU members manning contingency pumps.
Under plans the retirement age for firefighters is set to rise from 55 to 60 years old, with an increase to pension contributions.
The 2015 firefighters’ pension scheme legislation was voted through by MPs when Westminster fire minister Penny Mordaunt gave a guarantee that firefighters aged 55 who failed a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full, unreduced pension or a redeployed role.
This guarantee was subsequently confirmed by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government. However, when the FBU wrote to all fire authorities asking if they would implement this parliamentary guarantee, the responses from the national employers and a number of authorities clearly stated that they would not, leading to the latest strike.
During the strike period the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (IWFRS) will work in partnership with the other emergency services and partner agencies to respond to incidents. Each call will be assessed by the fire and rescue service and resources will be deployed as appropriate. Priority will be given to calls where lives are at risk, so in some cases, such as animal rescues or people trapped in lifts, calls will be challenged by Fire Control Operators and resources may not be deployed.
Householders and businesses are advised not to take unnecessary risks during periods of strike action and make preparations to reduce their chances of needing assistance from the fire and rescue service. This includes taking extra care when cooking or smoking, checking that smoke alarms are working and knowing what to do in an event of a fire and sharing this knowledge with others.
Owners of non-residential premises are also being reminded to prepare by ensuring their legislative duties, such as fire risk assessments and fire safety management, are up to date.