A ‘ONE off agreement’ has been reached between Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue and firefighters staging strike action this week.

The fire authority will this week accept partial performance from members of the Fire Brigades Union striking over proposed changes to their pension and the retirement age by the Government.

Firefighters will not be paid for the two hours they spend on the picket line but it does mean ‘normal fire arrangements’ will be in place for the majority of the industrial action.

Chief Fire Officer, Mark Jones said today: “The purpose of not accepting part-shift performance was always to ensure that Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service did not sustain severe financial losses due to the contingency arrangements we have to put in place each time.

"I am satisfied that, for this set of strikes, enough money will have been saved to protect the public purse and we have therefore agreed to deduct wages only for the period of industrial action for the remainder of the currently announced set of strikes.”

FBU members will strike between 5pm-7pm and 6am-8am every day up to and including Monday.

Ricky Matthews, Executive Council Member of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “I am satisfied that we have been able to reach a local agreement for this week’s industrial action.

“Firefighters only take industrial action as a last resort and it simply didn’t make sense for them to be penalised more than their colleagues in other fire and rescue services.

“I hope that the Government will meet with national officials of the union and settle matters quickly so that everyone can get back to working normally.”

Both parties said they wanted to reduce the risk to the residents they serve and protect.

Mr Matthews added: “There is no substitute for a full fleet of fire engines and stations available.

“I am greatly indebted to the very professional firefighters who have volunteered to work throughout these strikes and they continue to do a magnificent job of protecting the public.”

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

That position still stands despite this week's unique agreement, the authority said.

A firefighter said yesterday that the decision not to accept workers for the rest of their shift was “disgusting” and residents could be at risk due to the “sham service” offered in their absence.