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Firefighters joined eight-hour walkout
FIREFIGHTERS staged an eight-hour walkout as they protested against planned changes to working conditions.
More than 20 firefighters were outside Brentwood fire station in North Road in a bid to draw attention to resentment to possible changes to crews.
Nick Mayes, assistant secretary of the FBU in Essex and member of green watch in Brentwood for 26 years, said: “The planned changes would have a big impact on Brentwood.
“We have four watches at the moment, with 12 firefighters on each. The plan is to reduce the 48 staff to 24, along with six retained firefighters.”
Mr Mayes said Brentwood would struggle to support a retained service as the demographic of the area means many people do not have the spare time to do the job.
Hundreds of firefighters across Essex manned picket lines last Thursday, between 10am and 6pm, as part of the action.
The dispute, between the Fire Brigade Union and Essex Fire Authority, centres on union claims of a reduction in firefighters and changes being made to the service.
Matt Wrack, the FBU’s general secretary, said: “Firefighters don’t want to be on strike but it just goes to show the levels of anger and the levels of determination to resolve this dispute.”
Mr Mayes said if the changes came into force in Brentwood, the worst case scenario would be that a crew would not be able to staff an incident at all and firefighters would be called from another area – potentially wasting valuable time in an emergency.
He added: “This action is nothing to do with our personal benefit – it’s not about money or pensions.
“It is about allowing firefighters to do the job we are properly trained to do and passionate about doing.”
Chief fire officer David Johnson said, after the strike, that talks would be held this week.
He added: “It might have been better to have taken this position before taking their members out on strike, but we are hopeful we can get to a position where we can move things forward.”
Further walkouts were planned but following the strike, the two parties are now getting around the table and discussing the issue.