FIREFIGHTERS in Huntingdonshire could soon go on strike over changes to their pensions.

Nearly 80 per cent of members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted in favour of a strike against the Government's pension payment scheme that the union argues will see firefighters losing their jobs due to getting older.

Under the current proposals, firefighters who retire or are forced out of work at age 55 will lose significant amounts of their pension, but a recent review has shown that many firefighters aged between 50 and 54 can not longer meet the standards of fitness required for the job.

The earliest a strike could take place would be Thursday (September 5).

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has plans in place to ensure emergency calls are answered, though warns calls could be prioritised.

The cover will be enough to ensure life-threatening incidents, such as house fires, car accident and vehicle fires are attended.

Graham Stagg, chief fire officer, said: "We very much hope that a strike will not occur and the Government and the FBU will be able to negotiate a satisfactory agreement.

"However, if this cannot take place, we would like to reassure members of the public that we will still be able to attend 999 calls, where a person's life is at risk, including house fires, road traffic collisions and vehicle fires. We will be doing this by using fully trained fire and rescue service officers to crew our fire engines.

"By preparing to follow this guidance, members of the public and non-residential premises can greatly assist us by reducing their chances of dialling

999."

The fire service is advising residents to take extra care while cooking or smoking, call 999 in an emergency, check that your smoke alarms are working and know your plan if a fire breaks out.

Businesses are also being reminded to ensure fire risk assessments are up to date.