Chesterfield firefighter ideas were simply wrong

I would like to correct a few points that D. Stan Outram mistakenly quoted in last weeks letters under the heading ‘Strike - Have Firefighters Shot Themselves in the Foot’.

In his letter, D. Stan Outram refers to a firefighters’ pension as being “contributed to by every tax payer in the land” - wrong!

A firefighter pays many hundreds of pounds in deductions from his monthly salary to contribute into the fire fighters pension scheme.

These contributions are then used to pay the pensions of already retired members of the pension scheme.

There is an employer’s contribution (as is the norm with most occupational pension schemes) but his idea that every tax payer in the lands money is being siphoned off to pay fire fighters pensions is totally inaccurate.

Many of the striking firefighters signed up to the conditions of the pension scheme over 20 years ago and expected these conditions to be honoured - not changed!

They have planned their financial futures accordingly and many have gone through financial difficulties (whilst raising families etc.) due to the large amounts of money being deducted from their monthly salaries and paid into the pension scheme.

They have been willingly to go through this and forfeit some family luxuries in order to secure their financial future on their retirement.

The conditions are now being changed and firefighters feel rightly aggrieved about this, hence the reluctant need to take strike action.

The practical measures D. Stan Outram mentions that are “to be followed by everyone during the firemen’s strikes” are readily available from any Fire and Resuce Service at all times (not just strike time) should he be bothered to enquire.

Fire prevention plays a large part in the day to day activities of the modern Fire Service.

It is only because the Fire Service (and firefighters in general) are a community friendly service that this information is reiterated at strike times to ensure the ongoing safety of the general public.

Finally, if you think a reduction in fire fighters numbers is warranted, think how you would feel if you were upstairs in a house fire (unable to breathe for smoke) or trapped in your motor vehicle (legs crushed in agony) because the number of firefighters had been reduced (meaning less fire appliances) so further distances have to be travelled to attend emergency incidents.

Your argument makes no sense, all emergency calls would take longer to deal with!

To clarify - firefighters pay large monthly contributions deducted from their salaries to pay their pensions - it is not a tax payers handout!

I would suggest D. Stan Outram does a little bit of research and consider his points a little more before putting pen to paper in the future.

Steve Symonds

Retired firefighter