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The Fire Brigades Union voted for strike action over changes to pensions and plans to keep firefighters working longer
Firefighters at Woodford station are on strike as part of industrial action across England and Wales.
Ron Waite, Fire Brigades Union representative for Redbridge, who is currently at the picket line at Woodford Fire Station in Snakes Lane West, said all firefighters across the borough are taking part.
Union members are protesting against government pension reforms and plans to keep front line staff on the job until the age of 60.
Mr Waite said: “We’re not unreasonable but we can’t have a situation where an ageing and elderly fire service is expected to run into buildings and save people when they’re in their 60s."
He added that the fire service pays the most into pensions of any public service and that “we expect to get out what we put in”.
The union says many firefighters over the age of 50 are unable to meet fitness standards for fighting fires.
They say the government’s offer of moving older firefighters to less physically demanding roles is unfeasible as there are not enough jobs of this type, and mass sackings will follow.
The government has defended changes to pensions and Fire minister Brandon Lewis has said strike action is unnecessary and avoidable.
"The government has listened to union concerns - firefighters will still get one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector," he said.
"A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.
"An equivalent private sector pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much."
He added that the firefighter pension age of 60 was introduced in 2006 and is in line with the police and armed forces.
The London Fire Brigade says it is prepared to respond to incidents during the strike with a “contingency level” of fire and rescue service.
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