Fire chiefs urge extra care during festive celebrations as crews go on strike tonight

Wirral Globe: Firefighters to walk out again over Christmas and New Year period Firefighters to walk out again over Christmas and New Year period

Fire chiefs have urged people to take extra care during festive celebrations tonight because of a strike by firefighters in their bitter row with the Government over pensions.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union in England and Wales will walk out for five hours from 7pm, followed by further stoppages on New Year's Eve and on January 3.

The union has already called six strikes since September in protest at changes to pensions and retirement age, which it warned threatened firefighters in their late 50s with being sacked.

The union placed adverts in national newspapers today accusing the Government of "attacking" pensions, "ripping up" agreements and threatening firefighters in their 50s with dismissal, "simply for getting older".

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters provide a first class standard of service, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and these strikes will remind Government just how reliant they are on our members' professionalism, commitment and flexibility."

The next strike will be for six hours from 6.30pm on New Year's Eve, then for two hours from 6.30am on January 3, which will be the ninth round of industrial action taken by the FBU since the row flared.

A spokesman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said: "The public should be reassured that our staff will maintain a significant emergency response capability as usual over the Christmas and New Year period.

"We will also continue our community fire safety work – recognising the importance of providing fire safety information at such a time.

"During any industrial action we always ask the public to show extra care and vigilance."

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