Firefighters set to go on strike in row over cuts
FIREFIGHTERS are set to strike today, after failing to reach a deal with their bosses.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) claim budget cuts are putting lives at risk, with 100 full-time firefighters lost since 2008.
Latest data also showed response times for Essex fire crews to reach an incident was 6.7 minutes in 2008, compared to 7.9 minutes in 2010/11.
Talks were held with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, on Monday.
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ACAS also spoke with the Fire Brigades Union in the afternoon, but there was no sign of a truce after the meeting.
In mid June, union members voted 532 to 216 for strike action, which is now set to take place on five dates, today, July 7, July 18, August 18 and October 18.
FBU executive member Keith Handscomb said: "It is disappointing it's come to this, but this has been in dispute since 2008.
"The fact is that all cuts are continuing to be imposed.
"It does not leave us much option, none of us want to strike, it is not why any of us joined the fire service."
Both full-time and retained firefighters will be on strike today around the county.
But Chief Fire Officer David Johnson said more than 100 firefighters had signed "resilience contracts" guaranteeing their availability to provide cover during the strikes, while many of the service's crews at retained stations will also continue to work.
Adrian Clarke, FBU regional secretary, said: "The cuts and impositions continue while the fire authority only offers talks with managers without the powers to make a deal.
"It is little wonder that Essex fire crews are deeply angry and frustrated at the lack of progress.
"Essex firefighters do not relish strike action."