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    Firefighters Strike.
    Are the firefighters right to strike?
    Bedfordshire fire engine.
    Bedfordshire fire engine

    Britain's 55,000 full-time firefighters suspended their strike action, but are now planning further strikes.

    Why is this dispute taking so long to resolve? Give us your views here.

    SEE ALSO

    Fire fighters strike.

    "I loved serving my country"

    Gilchrist visits Herts and Beds

    January 2003 - Strike 4 - Borehamwood

    January 2003 - Strike 3 walk out

    Firefighters: Your questions answered

    2002
    Second strike
    The first walk out


    Thursday reaction

    The first night



    Be prepared and prevent fire

    Have your say about the firefighters strike

    WEB LINKS
    Fire Brigades' Union
    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
    ESSENTIAL INFO

    Britain's 55,000 full-time firefighters have voted to go on a series of strikes over pay, even though their part-time colleagues are not supporting them.

    The Fire Brigades' Union is calling for a 40% pay rise to give fully qualified firefighters a minimum annual wage of £30,000.

    They have rejected a 4% offer, tied to changes in working conditions. And the Government says the economy won't stand such a pay rise.

    But many firefighters say they have to claim benefits or do second or even third jobs to make ends meet.

    Next strikes are planned for:

    0900 hours February 1 to 0900 hours February 3 (48 hours)

     

    get in contact

    Add your comment

    The Fire Brigades' Union is calling for a 40% pay rise and have rejected the 4% they have been offered.

    As the army and their Green Goddesses are mobilised, fears are growing in Beds, Herts and Bucks that emergency cover may not be sufficient.

    Should this action be allowed? Do they deserve 40 per cent? What's the answer? Have your say here.

    Read more about this story
    See more comments

    your comments

    NJ, Bedford Monday, 10-Mar-2003 12:35:39 GMT
    Firefighters should get paid more for the job they do. After all the stories I hear about assylum seekers and immigrants getting given so much money, spending it on drinks in clubs instead of food, then why can't the government afford to pay the firefighters more? After all isn't it taxpayers money that pays their wages! I know who I would prefer my money to go to and it's not the free-riders that do no good for anyone!!40% a bit optimistic but never-the-less a pay rise is needed!

    Louisa Sibly, Dunstable Wednesday, 05-Mar-2003 12:07:47 GMT
    where are all the pictures of sweaty naked good looking firemen?

    cas, luton Saturday, 08-Mar-2003 21:59:49 GMT
    how many people would run into a burning house to save another persons life,with the wages that these "heroes" are on,not many! if the government can give themselves pay rises for doing sod all,surely we can afford to reward the right people!

    David Morelli, Watford Sunday, 02-Mar-2003 17:46:47 GMT
    It is about time that everyone realised how much good and courageous work the firefighters do.They should be paid their worth!They must be paid at least 26K

    aaron , bolton Friday 28 February, 2003
    what are the negative and positive aspects of being a fire fighter and what is the current status of the strike

    Cheryl Dover, Luton Thursday, 27-Feb-2003 09:09:18 GMT
    I say that they are wrong to take futher strikes as most of them have second jobs. What happened to doing good is it's own reward? Do they even care about human lives? It does not seem so as they keep striking. When they strike the army has to take over and they have only the basics where as the fire fighters have more modern equipment. The army is doing a very good job the fire fighters job.

    Lee , Peterborough Tuesday 25
    February 2003
    I think the government is to blame for this dispute. If they did not spend so much on asylum seekings and building things such as the millenium dome then they would have the money to give all public sector workers a pay rise. What has happened to britain since they came in power? And what evidence is there that gives them the right to have a fourty percent pay rise? I blame the government!!

    Janey, Hitchin, Herts Saturday 22
    February, 2003
    Why should the firefighters strike?????? Why should they deserve greater pay? Derry Irvine, Derry Irvine, Derry Irvine. And the Ministers of the Cabinet who are excused the 5 charge for entering London Congestion zones. Unlike firefighters, nurses and other underpaid employees of the state who cannot afford rents/mortgages in the Capital, who work shifts and who, therefore, need their cars in order to work unsocial hours when our appalling public 'transport' system isn't operative. This country is under the rule of a government which doesn't seem to realise who elected them. Firefighters should, perhaps, accept their 40% pay rise in increments but they deserve to earn a living wage in view of the service they give to the inhabitants of this country, under very difficult, gruelling and often extremely dangerous circumstances. Day after day after day. Do we really begrudge them their 'quiet' times when they are waiting for their next call to a burning house or a Road Traffic Accident? I don't think so.

    peter, Hemel Hempstead Friday 21
    February, 2003
    Alison Cardiff It appears that you work in a Hospital on low pay. WHY?? The Governments have taken the mick for years. Knowing that you wont strike for better pay, heres a peanut now go away. I believe this is wrong as you should be well paid. Nigel Aylesbury Firefighters to train as Nurses, not a bad idea, but due to MODERNISATION they have their full quota of Nurses and other staff. After all you cant over employ, as there wont be any money left in the budget for the pay rises of the managers who do absolute JACK ---T except instigate the cuts. As for putting out the toast, you`d be suprised at the amount of kitchen fires caused by toast, when you are doing the toast, make sure you dont need us, as if the station has been closed by the Bain report, you can then complain, oops sorry you wont as you appear to be a Blairite.

    John, UK Friday 21
    February, 2003
    I have it from a very good source that Paramedics pay will rise quite considerably fairly soon. We all know that the NHS has been offered a 10% rise over 2 or 3 years, (I can't quite remember which). But what was not said that this is an average of 10%. with lower paid essential staff getting a larger percentage. I have been told that Paramedics pay will rise to approx 27K, quite a considerable rise about 50%. Will the Government step in and say the Country cannot afford it because it ?


    Nigel, Aylesbury Thursday 20
    February, 2003
    Take note Firefighters ! of exactly what Alison from Cardiff has written !! She is absolutely spot on , right to the point. The Unison leader, name escapes me !? ( could be a red dinosaur ?!) does not want The Agenda for Change in the NHS to continue until " our brothers and sisters in the Fire Service " have had their dispute settled. The person in charge of Health at Unison, Karen Jennings has mentioned that Health Staff should not be too optimistic about getting a large increase in pay, certainly nowhere near the doctors want (30%). Unions like the Government have no idea what their members/constituents actually want and need !! Unison bosses are quite prepared to fight for another Unions "Greedy" 40% request but not for the low paid workers in our National Health Service who are unwilling/unable to strike for an amount lot less than 40%. Modernisation is essential for all public services to serve the public the best they possibly can. If there are job losses in the Fire Service they could always train as nurses ! the NHS has a reputed shortage. Wouldn't be able to sit down for a lot of the shift but at least they could sort out the burning toast !!

    Barbara, Hemel Hempstead Thursday 20
    February, 2003
    In response to what Alison has said The firefighters of this country have woken up big time to what is going on by looking at what has happend to other workplaces and that includes you in the NHS. DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY WOULD ARGUE OVER SOMETHING THAT IS NOT WORKING ALREADY ? Ministers modernisation agenga want to use the Bain report which states 4,500 firefighters jobs to be axed (It does not matter which way you look at it ) over the next 4 years with hundreds of control staff this equates to the closure of about 150 fire stations or 3 in each fire brigade area`s across the country, who knows were this may happen ? And lets not forget this could well happen if as you put it we dont wake up. So when you look to the future maybe you will say they were right to fight for their jobs?

    Alison, Cardiff Thursday 20
    February, 2003
    A number of public sector workers would love a 40% increase in pay but should we all withdraw our services to get it? Some professsional groups are prevented from striking and therefore do not have the clout that the Fire fighters think that they have. Some of us have trained for 3 and 4 years to get professional qualifications to work within the public sector. Our skills are required for the whole of our working day and not just at times when we are called out. We earn substantially less than the Firefighters do at present and will be well out of range if their basic salary becomes 30,000 per year. As for modernisation - come and work in the NHS! Modernisation has meant that we have opportunities to progress now that we did not have before. It has also meant that some people do not do the job that they once did and many who have taken early retirement have not been replaced.But we live in a society where things can't stay the same. Limited income for services means tough decisions, wake up to it! I feel that the firefighters have been led up the garden path by their union. No union in it's right mind bring out their members for a 40% increase. Andy Gilcrist has proved that he does not have the ability to negotiate his way out of a paper bag let alone take on the government and expect to win. Settle quietly now before you lose even more public support.

    Peter, Hemel Hempstead Tuesday 18 February, 2003
    Paul MK If you had read some of the previous entries on this site, the answer is already there. Firefighters have not picketed obstructively as you put it. As for Public Safety Equipment, yes that is its purpose, however a lot of brigade appliances dont belong to the Public, they are privately owned by lease companies. Whilst the Firefighters are on strike, heres the appliances, take them. When there is a major incident that the Firefighters have agreed to attend, where will the appliances be and will they still work. In Bedford, asylum seekers burnt down a 100m purpose built centre, and now fish eyes Cook has the cheek to ask for at least 800m for them. It has also cost 100m to pay the Military during the strike dates

    Paul , MK Monday 17
    February, 2003
    At school I was always told to read the question carefully. This thread is meant to be about whether the firefighters' action should be allowed and whether the firefighters should receive 40%So, yes let them strike but no, don't let them picket obstructively and deny access to what is the public's safety equipment. And no, I think they don't deserve a 40% increase across the board. By all means some might say we "waste" money on the military build up in the Middle East, whereas others may have the view that money is "wasted" on dealing with illegal immigrants/ asylum seekers. That kind of debate on Govt priorities might have merit but could run and run.... We all assume MP's have their noses in the trough too much of the time so no arguments there :)

    lisa smith, luton Saturday 15 February, 2003
    i think that the committee should give the fire fighters more money cause they are risking their lifes they could die they got my support we even give them loads of wood to keep warm.

    roz mercer, Bedford Friday 14 February, 2003
    Lets face it in a decent society firemen, nurses, doctors and others on which we so depend would all be paid better but we have all our priorities wrong and sadly it will never happen. How curious that we tolerate the decadence and extreme wealth of many high ranking officials, MPs, members of the Royal Family, film stars, sportmen and pop singers but we never seem to have any money for the key workers. Where do our taxes go? They are high enough if you consider the huge amount of increases in indirect taxation that Gordon Brown has had off all of us during the last six years. If we have 2 billion to pay for a senseless war against Irag, then surely we have gone quite mad! Ironically that same war will drive taxes up even further so I doubt if the firemen will get what they really deserve.

    Matt, Hertfordshire Friday 14 February, 2003
    Police, firefighters, hospital staff, etc all should have a high pay rate because they can all help save lives.

    Brain Lentz, Hatfield Friday 14 February, 2003
    The FireFighters deserve the pay rise in my opinion. I have in my time worn a Khaki and a Blue Uniform but would not relish doing a Fireman's job. Those that criticise are, I suspect, people who have never served anyone but themselves. Why is it the Politicians deserve higher pay and HUGE Pensions, yet these same people can COST lives in a war the majority of the public do NOT want, yet FireFighters do not, who save lives ? Next time YOU are trapped in a car, upside down because you were a bad driver/reckless/had one too many something's.. just thank YOUR lucky stars there are people out there willing to pull your hide out of your vehicle, no matter how smashed up and repulsive you now look and now matter that your vehicle may be about to catch light... or topple over ...or fall off some embankment... and you know what, you will THEN learn what a FIREfighter does, oh, I forgot, where was Tony Blair and his cronies when YOU or your children were bleeding in that car ??? You think Lord Irvene deservede to get a Pay rise almost as big as the entire salary of a fireman... give it a rest ! When your pension is worth squat due to increased taxation and overbearance of Regulation (FRS17 for one) and the Politicians swan off on YOUR taxes to a life of leisure, what the hell do you think the Firemen will live on..? A pay Increase from what base ? Forget the percentage, look at the wage people, what do YOU earn before tax and how many lives do YOU save doing it ?

    Peter, Hemel Hempstead Thursday, 13 February, 2003
    Rob Saudi Thank him well as some of the ground troops have had to buy their own boots, because they have not got any. The SA 80 is liable to fail as it did 12 years ago, the Artillary they aren`t sure obout. All this for 3.2%, However if they cut your pay rise in line with modernisation that would pay for the necessary equipment and the MP`s payrise. Duncan Thank you for yor support and understanding, I agree with you, as this is the 1st time since the dispute started that the Government has been at the talks, Not bad for 4 months, could be that the TUC shook them. Jo Bedford Thank you. Phil Aylesbury Another Rattlesnake. Cheers, wait till you need our help, oops the service has been modernised and the station has been closed. Whilst we are all getting the sack, you had better add the police as they have to get up to 1000 troops to assist them after all they were modernised weren`t they, sorry cut. The management skills of the MP`s is C--P so sack them as well. Mick Luton Read the earlier entries about recruitment, as thousands are due to leave, and not very many applicants make the grade. If its that good why dont you give it a try? Nigel Aylesbury Low pay should be eradicated across the board in all walks of life, not just the Fire Service. Some of The nursing service have been offered 15% over 3 years. Paul MK You have not said much about about the MP`s 40% payrise last year and 2.75% this year, MY TAXES, they spent that freely. Dont you think it strange that Brown said there was no more money in the kitty, yet he has found an enormous amount to fund the payrises and the Iraqi War Effort.

    Paul, Milton Keynes Wednesday 12
    February, 2003
    Nobody denies that at times, firefighters risk their personal safety for the safety of others but it seems to me that Mr Gilchrist is leading nothing more than a political action. Don't blame the firefighters for supporting a leadership that promises to do everything to get them 40% more! It is sad that so many in the so-called "Public Service" have no idea of the realities of business. Too often they appear to believe that there is some bottomless pit of Government Cash (ie MY TAXES!)They need to understand that someone, somewhere, has to CREATE the wealth for them to spend so freely. 40%? We would all like that Mr Gilchrist but if my company paid that level of increase then there would be massive redundancies to fund it. Get real you guys.

    Nigel, Aylesbury Tuesday 11
    February, 2003
    There is a very strong possibility that the NHS will have to wait a very long time for a pay settlement, anywhere near the 11%, that our "ever so slightly greedy "Skilled Manual Firefighters" were offered. To make matters worse !?, a certain Mr Gilchrist wishes to eradicate low pay in the Fire Service ! What low pay pays 21000 after 5 years without an academic background ? Several ex Forces have joined the Fire Service, possibly because its much easier money, less hours and a much safer lifestyle ! I don't blame them one bit ! I am also ex Forces(24 years). Just 3 more points/questions ! Why are there several applicants for every vacancy in the Fire Service ??? Sort your dispute out soon else you will be in danger of losing the Rank and File support of the Public Service Unions sooner than you realise. NB: Firefighters in the big cities who get called out to serious incidents on a regular basis deserve a decent payrise !!!

    Mick Luton Tuesday 11
    February, 2003
    With new applications to the fire service being dramatically over-subscribed, the law of supply and demand suggests that the fire service is a very attractive employment at the current pay levels. I believe there is a strong case for issuing the strikers an ultimatum - get back to work or collect your cards!

    Clive, UK Tuesday 11
    February, 2003
    Wrong again Nigel, The FBU Website actually states Firefighter (aged 18) 16,941

    Nigel, Luton Monday 10 February, 2003
    Sam, MK: FBU website pay scales for last year - 1st 6 months 17208. Not many 18 year-olds will get anywhere near this. Presumably this is paid while at Fire Service College, so it could also be said that no other students get anywhere near this. The potential is there for a 22 year-old to get 21531 following less than 5 years of work. I can name several qualified profesionals living IN London who don't get this after working for 25 years. These are people who work 10 hours per day, get weekends off if they are lucky and have 25 days leave per year, usually taken during slack periods. They also have to work until they are 65. The Fire Service pay and conditions look great to me.

    Phil, Aylesbury Monday 10 February, 2003
    All striking firefighters should be fired stright away. They should not get any pension rights at all, never, ever. They would like to have more money? so would like I!!!! And I am not prepared to give them any more of my hard earned taxes... In any case military deserves more, and please..I am not from military. I just hate to see our taxes going to social security scums and so called "poor needy firefighters".

    Jo, Bedford Saturday 8 February, 2003
    30k for all the fire, police, and ambulance, its a small price to pay for professionals who dedicate themselves to sevice, if you were at potters bar/ hatfield, in a serious car crash you would want all three!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! healthy motivated and working as part of a team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! perhaps all three unions should get together

    Duncan Borrington-Chance, Flitwick Friday 7 February, 2003
    I'm only 12 but I think fire fighters are under paid. They shouldn't go on strike BUT I think they deserve more pay. If they keep going on strike I think that people will stop supporting them as they're going to far! Just keep talking it over

    Rob, Saudi Friday 7 February, 2003
    Thanks Mr. Blair for my 3.2% pay rise, I'll carry on doing the job I joined up to do and that I knew all the details about before joining. I won't moan or strike. Oh that's right, I can't!!

    Che, Stevenage Friday 7 February, 2003
    Any company that gives its staff a pay increase also has to up not only up its pension contributions but its NI contributions etc, these are not limited to just the Fire Service but apply to every single company and public sector employer. Also the Fire Service is not the only one who offers final salary pensions in the public sector or private sector. You will find that the civil service, police, probation officers etc, and of course MPs all are part of these schemes. The main reason private employers are failing to offer these types of scheme to their new employees is two fold, the first is the new accounting rules and taxation of pension funds that were brought in recently, and the second is the downturn in the stockmarket with their resulting weaker forecasts for the investments which many pension funds are based on. These do not affect say the fire service pension scheme because as i have said before contributions paid into it were treated as income by Local Authorities and spent, therefore not treated as they should have - pension contributions that should be used for investment therefore restricting the employers contribution in the future to the reasonable amount any employer contributes to their employees pension schemes. This is why Local authorities pay a large employers contribution to the Firefighters pension scheme. There is a parallel to this story and that parallel is the Maxwell pension scandal - Maxwell used his employees pension fund to invest (spend) in dubious deals that did not see a return thus when it came to paying his pensions there was not enough money in the pot and the pensioners were left high and dry. The problem with Local Authorities is they do not plan for the long term future - the decisions to use pension contributions as income helps them at the time when a scheme is in its infancy however it stores up problems for the future and that is what has happened. Its likely that the councillors etc that made these decisions in the past are long gone. I would suggest that it is these people that should be hauled over the coals not the firefighters for being within the pension scheme. Also when maufacturers of aerial plant specify having them stripped and rebuilt after 15 years you are foolhardy to ignore it. Thus Fire Services would'nt use it until it had this performed. I am well aware of the function and abilities of the REME but as they are not the manufacturers they cannot say with any great conviction whether it is or isnt safe to use, that is why they are stripped to each individual component by the manufacturers and then reassembled with damaged components being replaced at this interval. Are you suggesting that the REME did this? I would suggest that they had more important things to do like changing air filters on tanks, Changing helicopter rotor blades and showing soldiers that it is their cleaning routine that jams rifles not sand.

    Sam, Milton Keynes Thursday 6
    February, 2003
    NIGEL: - I have just read your reply to me, you have been misinformed. The Firefighters are claiming a rise of about 40%, the current starting salary for a firefighter is 16,941, a 40% rise would bring the starting salary up to the region of 23kish. The 30k figure is what can be earnt in the 5th year of service subject to qualification. Also just for clarity, there are currently yearly incremental pay rises. If you need any further accurate information on the subject I would be happy to help. BILL in Stevenage, Thank you for your supportive comments, it is refreshing for Firefighters and their families to hear. Thanks again.

    Nigel, Luton Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    Before Peter jumps on me, retiring on the wrong side of the deadline would have an effect of 6k on the annual pension.

    Nigel, Luton Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    Che: Sorry, I missed one of your responses, I've not been deliberately ignoring it. As I've said, cutting the Fire Service is a definite error. To suggest this at the same time as proposing building more houses (which is essential now, never mind over 20 years) shows a major error in 2 Jags' judgement. If the dispute were about cuts and was undertaken without strike action, support for the firefighters would be unanimous and would be carried through - local MPs and therefore government can't override the wishes of the electorate if they want to stay in power. You've got the public's backs up with the wage claim, though, and ill-considered actions like the one involving the aerial platform have made matters worse. The issue about pay isn't just about a 40% claim - with Employers' pension contributions simple maths says that the wage bill will be 50%. Hidden away are other issues that will raise the cost substantially more. An example is Peter of Hemel. In 18 ! months, he will retire. With what he has build up in his pension fund, his pension shouldn't be much more than 2/3 of his current salary. If, for the sake of argument, you won 40%, Peter would still expect to retire on 2/3 of his FINAL salary even though his overall contributions would probably be in the order of 60k short (40% of 20 years at 33% of a 23k salary). (I've presumed he has reached Leading Firefighter). So, in Peter's case, its not just a case of an extra 9k per year (did I really say "just?"), but an extra 60k that has to appear from nowhere. This funding won't be made up until we get close to the end of the next generation of firefighters. Obviously, I'm not privy to the discussions at the various meetings, but must wonder whether somebody has suggested how to get round this. Will the firefighters accept significantly less than 2/3 of final salary or are Council Tax bills going to go through the roof? What about the retired firefighters, especially t! hose who have recently retired? Retiring a day short of a deadline must be expected to cause resentment when about 10k per year is at stake. The additional costs involved in the use of Armed Forces cover during strikes is probably little more than the savings from not paying your wages as most of it would have been spent anyway (merely totalled up and assigned against fire strike as opposed to training) or during the initial set up (no longer a bargaining issue as it has already been spent). Hindsight is wonderful. If you'd asked five years ago for a pay increase of 4% over the cost of living each year for the next five years, you would have been more likely to have received it, certainly with much less animosity. If you try a similar deal now, even if you managed to swing it, it would appear as if you had backed down. You truly have my sympathy, even if not my support, because the FBU overreached to the extent that the government has been obliged to get it's pound of! flesh. I can't see there being any winners in this dispute and, regrettably, if the strikes continue, the victims won't even be among the antagonists.

    Nigel, Luton Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    Peter, Hemel: With regard to your last writings, I have operated aerial platforms for over 20 years. I presume the platforms you have operated have all been lorry-mounts. Regardless of manufacturer, model or capacity, these are all considered a single type. I have operated lorry-mounts, van-mounts and trailer-mounts (these are classified as different types as they have different jacking/stabilising systems) as well as various mobile platforms (i.e. without jacks) and have tickets for all except the tracked variations. As the lorry-mounts are supposed to be operated with the wheels clear of the ground, the only limitation on ground slope is the point where the vehicle slides. If you aren't operating with the body level (and the jacks down), then you aren't operating it correctly or safely. I don't know where you get the idea of a "builder's half day" to set up, it takes less than 10 minutes (without assistance). Perhaps you are referring to the rogue "cowboy" builders who try to give the impression that they working hard to justify their high prices and offset their shoddy workmanship. I understand that a lot of these cowboys are builders only part time and have another full-time job..... You accuse me of not replying to your earlier questions - to put the record straight, it was I who asked the questions and was awaiting an answer from you. Don't bother replying now, your responses to everybody seem to comprise of the same words in different sequences.

    Peter, Hemel Hempstead Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    H Bedford I was on the last strike all those years ago, yes it was hard but I found a lot of part time work, Yes I personally would have prefered an all out strike, and here`s the equipment, it`s not mine or yours it belongs in most cases to private companies, . when its all over and the Fireservice has been destroyed, and the equipment is not serviceable, you will have no service then, complain to Prescott. 1 item of interest, 25yrs ago Labour were in power, they lost that election and got nowhere for 18yrs, now they are in power, seems like they are out to make amends and crush all public service unions, the workers of this Country deserve better than this bunch of imbeciles at parliament.

    Peter, Hemel Hempstead Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    Nigel You cant get qualified pay until you are at least 22yrs old, as you cant join the Fire Service unless you are a minimum of 18yrs old. Your second comment an FBU rep could answer that, but i would think they dont take their pay either, You wont split the union either

    H. Bedford Wednesday 5 February, 2003
    When the miners went on strike, they stayed on strike - none of this "on off on off" rubbish. I don't doubt you deserve better pay for what you do, but stop putting our lives at risk to get it. I feel sorry for the army - they have to jump into action every time you say "Strike", then you don't even have the courtesy to give them the proper equipment needed for the job. The longer you keep this up, the more our support for you dwindles - when will you see that? We'd have more respect for you if you went on a complete strike - but that would be too hard on the bank balance wouldn't it!

    Clive, UK Wednesday 5
    February, 2003
    Brilliant move by the Deputy Prime Minister, reduce the Fire Service and massively increase housing, (Low Cost Housing) Will this housing be low cost high quality with domestic sprinklers and built in hard wired smoke alarms, or of the low quality tinderbox variety that we have seen go up in a puff of smoke so often.

    Jim, Herts Wednesday 5
    February, 2003
    Yawn, Yawn, Mark from Harpendon. A lot of us have already done it, been there got the tee shirt, came back and joined the Fire Service. Please read some of the previous comments on this board regarding firefighters previously serving their Country and you might not embarrass yourself with any more silly comments.

    Nigel, Luton Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    Che, Stevenage: The Armed Forces are not exempt from Health and Safety laws. Short of charging into battle (I am assured this may be exempted), everything the Forces do is governed by H&S procedures. The extent of involvement is such that all soldiers of staff sergeant and above have to attend (and pass) a site safety supervisors course. Where appropriate, all equipment must be checked per relevant statutory regulations. Crown Immunity, while still on the statutes, is not considered an exemption from individual and corporate responsibilities under H&S law. With regard to the hydraulic platform, the LOLER regulations don't specifically require the actions you stated. A range of inspections and tests are adequate. If you go up to the lorry-mount platforms available from hire companies and scrape a bit of the green or yellow paint off, you will often find red undernea! th. The REME have all the facilities necessary to re-certify such vehicles, though I would not be surprised if, for convenience, they took it to a local plant hire company instead as most have their own fitters, facilities and spares.

    Peter , Hemel Hempstead Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    Mark If required, I would quite happily march off to fight, would you?? I would happily put my life on the line to save you. Would you do the same for me?? I doubt it. A lot of Firefighters are ex Military. Ross Treat me as the Police, same pay, no strikes yes please, it`s more than 30k, to get full qualified pay takes 4yrs. As for calling me a traitor. READ ABOVE. Nigel Aylesbury I agree, a lot of different workers should get a decent living wage, not the miserly amount they presently get. Yes the Fireservice have also changed, adapted, improved, improvised and learnt new skills, with smaller and smaller budgets. Yet to listen to Prescott and Bain we are Fossils. We have been at ACAS since before Christmas for talks, but the Employers send a message, BAIN, BAIN. Hows that for discussion. Nigel Luton I won't forgive you, as you cant answer all of the questions posed. As for your poison statement, I personally, along with other Firefighters dont want anyone to die at anytime. As you have been constantly putting your foot in it, it's obvious that you are in need of some sympathy votes to help your cause. IV'E GOT NEWS FOR YOU, YOU GOT IT WRONG YET AGAIN, you wont learn will you.You have tried your hardest to put down the Firefighters and downgrade the skills. I have got 18 months left to retirement. As you say that you are an operator, and have more skills than I do. I am appalled at your lack of technical knowledge and ability. How long have you been an operator and on what? I am a qualified operator, trainer and examiner on 3 different types of aerial appliance, soon to be a 4th. So now you are trying to kid the Public that its easy and dont need skill. You laugh about Cambers and Hills, I can take you to parts of London where the Hill is 20%, and a Camber of almost 7 degree's! some Aerials need to be levelled to get it to work, and all done quickly, not in a builders half day. You say the jacks would do this without any problem, which type of Aerial appliance. As an operator you should know that if you rest a cage against a building it could make the appliance unstable, and yes I can take the cage from ground floor 1" from the window to the 10th floor easy. The payloads of the Aerials in London vary between 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 Persons, I can guess that the Appliance that you are refering to, in London takes 6. As for your insult, I am not afraid of anything, Either 60m Aerial appliance as used in Hong Kong or confined spaces, No problems. As for applied maths, it wont stop an aerial appliance falling over when you get it wrong. Next time you quote Aerials get it right, remember any numbskull can operate in a car park and pay 80 to get their licence. Hose, yes I agree, depending on the hose size, branch and nozzle size, and pump pressure, it can take u! p to 3 people to hold it down. As for trying to get one back against me, good effort.

    Nigel, Luton Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    Peter, Hemel Hempstead: Before you start spouting "WRONG AGAIN" yet again, read what I have written. It's getting boring rewriting everything because you have reading difficulties. The figure of 30k was addressed at qualified firefighters, hence the additional comment of being available to a 21 year old. I am well aware that the firefighters don't get paid while on strike - I made no suggestion that they do. The issue concerned Andy Gilchrist and other STAFF (not members) of the FBU. While you are on strike and getting no pay at their bidding, they are not on strike and presumably are still being paid. I queried whether they were giving up a proportionate amount of their pay towards your hardship fund as a token of solidarity - or is it a case of "I'm all right, Jack."

    Bill Stevenson, Stevenage Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    Che: There are a lot of ignorant and/or arrogant people out there and unfortunatly, when this dispute is over, they will still expect you and your colleagues to come and save their worthless backsides.

    John., Just North of The Big Apple, NY, USA. Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    For Barbara, Hemel Hempsted. This is the last time that I shall play the word game with you, and I suggest that the good old BBC is about ready to pull the plug too! You misquote me Barbara. I did NOT at any time say that America is better than England. What I did say was that i did not wish to return to England for anything other than a visit to relatives, and that I still love England, but that I love my home America more. You blame the government for your real or imagined ills Barbara, and that is the usual and convenient way for many on both sides of the Atlantic. If your husband is so fired up to improve his lot, then let him move on to other endeavours in other sectors. Apart from putting out fires, what other qualifications can he offer a prospective employer Barbara? Anyway, enough of this sparring, we are becoming like two angry dogs facing off. I invite you to visit my home Barbara. Go to BBC Kent and in Global Bagpuss select New Rochelle New York. There you will be able to see my home, and the area that I live in. I wish you well, and hope that you finally find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    steve, leighton buzzard Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    like your style mark

    Rob, Saudi Tuesady 4
    February, 2003
    Che, what absolute RUBBISH. The Armed forces are subject to the Health & Safety at work act 1974 during peacetime as well as other legislation such as environmental protection, just as the rest of British Industry is. Only in times of war are we exempt if the need arises. The fact that we have to comply with Health & Safety often inhibits our effectiveness but it is legally enforceable, so we get on and do it, not complaining or striking, because we are not allowed to.

    che, stevenage Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    ross, wellingborough all i can say to you is you are an idiot. Traitors are not people who care about the service they may have to provide to their communities. I certainly would like to see you call the ex members of the forces who serve on my station and were in the falklands, gulf, bosnia and northern ireland traitors. Foolish idiot.

    Mark, Harpenden Tuesday 4
    February, 2003
    In the face of industrial action by members of the armed forces, the government has announced that the Fire Service will, as an interim measure, carry out military operations in Iraq. The army, who have demanded a 40% pay increase on the basis that they didn't know they would be shot at and that their job has become rather more technical since 1945, will begin strike action next Thursday unless a compromise pay deal can be agreed in the meantime. It is understood that they will spend their time standing around little bonfires, rubbing their hands together and waving at passing vehicles who honk their horns at them. Crack Fire Service personnel, highly trained in playing darts, brewing tea and sliding down poles, are understood to be on stand-by to spend months apart from their families to do someone elses job by taking up front line operations. Using their "red goddess" vehicles instead of tanks, they will race towards Iraqi lines and attempt to annoy the enemy into surrendering by making a lot of noise and spraying them with water.

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