AS an experienced firefighter with just over 20 years’ service, I find myself in a very difficult situation.
I joined at the age of 20, which should have enabled me to have a career of 30+ years, allowing me to retire at an age where I could still perform my role safely and effectively. The pension I signed up to takes into consideration the arduous tasks and the physical demands met by a firefighter.
I now find myself facing another 20 years’ service at the age of 40, which means to qualify for a full pension I will have to work until I am 60.
I am concerned I may be unable to maintain the high level of fitness required to be a firefighter.
I am already finding it difficult to get anywhere near the standards which I so easily achieved at a younger age.
Being a firefighter requires you to enter burning premises and save lives. Being fit and healthy and able to do your job requires a high level of physical ability.
To enable us to work until we are 60 we would have to lower our fitness standards, which could put firefighters’ and the public’s lives at risk.
There are no redeployment positions for me to go to, so where will that leave me?
I appreciate I chose this job and I chose a career that can be demanding and very physical. I am not asking for praise, I am not asking for a wage of a footballer or even an MP.
I just want to keep the pension I signed up to, one which is fair, affordable and sustainable and will allow me to carry on being a firefighter who is dedicated to his job in maintaining a high level of professionalism and keeping the public of Oxfordshire safe.
Is that too much to ask for?
WHAT STRIKE WAS ABOUT
Yesterday’s strike was the latest industrial action in a three-year battle with the Government, which plans to raise firefighters’ retirement age from 55 to 60 and increase their pension contributions.
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s deputy Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: “In Oxfordshire we have put in place robust contingency arrangements for every strike period to date and the latest strike is no different. We have fire appliances available across the county and we are able to respond to any 999 call, as has been the case with all previous periods of strike action.”
The picket line yesterday outside Slade Park Fire Station
Covering firefighters managed to unlock a car with a baby left inside in Sunningwell Road, Oxford, put out a small fire caused by a bonfire in Shotover and stop a car leaking fuel in West Street, Banbury.
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