A FIREFIGHTER claims that residents could be at risk as High Wycombe Fire Station operates a “sham of a service” during a strike row.

But Buckinghamshire’s Chief Fire Officer Mark Jones rubbished the claims and said the comments are ‘engineered to divert attention’ away from the strike action being taken by the Fire Brigades Union.

Union members will picket outside stations around the country over the next eight days over a dispute about pensions and the retirement age.

A firefighter, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BFP that Bucks Fire and Rescue is refusing to accept the services of union members.

He said BFR’s decision to reject partial performance, which is perfectly legal, is “outrageous” and is putting the safety of residents at risk, with High Wycombe station “offering a sham of a service.”

He said: “For eight days we will be forced to find something else to do while they operate a shame of a service on scraps.

“The public is paying for this. They pay for a professional service, but they will be getting a sub-standard service without a tax reduction.

“And where is the money going that Bucks Fire and Rescue will save?

“It’s disgusting people are looking at losing 60 hours work, it’s bullying, and I dread to think what would happen if a major incident occurred.”

Bucks Fire and Rescue decided in December not to accept partial performance from any member of staff participating in strike action, with contingency plans drawn up to cover absences.

Chief Fire Officer Jones said: “It seems to me that comments about how we manage the Fire Brigades Union’s decision to go on strike are engineered to divert attention away from the fact that it has chosen to withdraw its labour on so many occasions and place the public at risk.

“It also seems that the Fire Brigades Union doesn't just want to go on strike - it also wants to control how Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service manages the absence of its members.

“Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority made a lawful and reasonable decision last December, in which it considered the considerable costs to the local taxpayer of this ongoing dispute."

But he added: “However, I have been very impressed with some of the ideas expressed by the firefighters I have spoken to on picket lines as to how we might come to agreement which would lessen the financial impact upon striking firefighters and the risk to our communities.

“I had hoped that seeing this flexibility operate would have stimulated the Fire Brigades Union into seeking further such local agreements to help their members.”