A TOTAL of 200 firefighters will be on strike in Sussex today.
They are among Fire Brigade Union members (FBU) throughout England and Wales striking to protest against proposed changes to their pensions and retirement age.
Every FBU member in Sussex is expected to participate in the strike, meaning the county will be without 200 firefighters for 24 hours.
Brighton and Hove will be without over a third of its firefighters throughout the strike.
Simon Herbert, chairman of the East Sussex Fire Brigade Union, criticised the MP Brandon Lewis for the way the Government is processing the plans.
Mr Herbert said: “We’re being hit on all fronts at the moment.
“We don’t want to go on strike and the public don’t want us to go on strike but Brandon Lewis has failed to give us a costed offer for our pensions. He wants to plough on with the changes and it’s not acceptable to anyone.”
There will also be a second strike on June 21, starting at 10am and finishing at 5pm.
In the time between the two strikes, firefighters will not be carrying out any voluntary overtime, which is needed to maintain cover.
Non FBU members and officers across the county will be working through the strikes and will be prioritising life threatening incidents.
And both fire services in Sussex are warning people they will have fewer resources on the day.
Gary Walsh, Deputy Chief Fire Officer for East Sussex, said: “Contingency fire crews will be on duty throughout the period of the strike and will respond to emergency calls according to the level of priority and resources available.”
“We would urge the public to remain vigilant at all times with regards to fire and road safety but particularly during times of industrial action when resources are reduced.”
A spokesperson for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “The strike means that we will have fewer resources on the day but we still want people to contact us if there is an emergency.
“We recognise the right of our employees to take industrial action and have made contingency plans.”
In another ballot, FBU members chose to take action short of a strike.
This usually involves making decisions on whether to carry out duties beyond those of which they are contractually obliged to perform.
But the FBU has not announced what action short of a strike they will be taking.
It is not known when the industrial action will end.