WIRRAL firefighters have joined hundreds of thousands of public sector workers taking strike action today, Thursday.

The long-running dispute over firefighters' pensions will see firefighters put down their tools between 10am and 7pm today at the same time as a walk-out by local government workers, teachers and civil servants over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads.

The strike is the fifteenth in the FBU’s campaign and comes just days before they walk-out on eight consecutive days. 

Around 95% of Merseyside's 760 firefighters are expected to take part in the action today.

Mark Rowe, brigade secretary for Merseyside, said: "The dispute is about the Government trying to impose a pension scheme on us which will see firefighters working up until their 60th birthday which is totally unworkable.

"The Government's own report that they commissioned to look into whether or not fire fighters could work to 60 said nearly 70% of firefighters wouldn't meet the fitness standards set.

"If that's not bad enough, the real threat to us is that if we reach the age of 55 or younger without being able to maintain our fitness - we all age at different rates and pick up knocks and it's a very demanding job - but if we don't maintain our fitness we will be dismissed under capability.

"We won't have a job and we won't have a pension. That's something that we will not stand for."

A spokesman for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service reassured that trained firefighters who are not members of the FBU will respond to 999 calls.

He said: “The public and communities in Merseyside will have a significant emergency response provided by our staff during the action on Thursday, July 10.

"We would like to reassure people that 999 calls will be answered and responded to as normal and fully trained firefighters will also be on duty throughout the planned action from July 14, up to and including July 21.

“We will also continue with 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.”