Firefighters in Huddersfield joined more than 200 colleagues across West Yorkshire who staged walk-outs as part of a dispute over pensions.

The industrial action was repeated across the country and led by the Fire Brigades Union.

It came after two years of negotiations over proposed pension changes failed to reach agreement.

And the FBU said it has ‘not ruled out’ further action if the dispute continues.

Union officials said firefighters from Elland, Brighouse, Dewsbury and Batley also took part in the four-hour strike – the first in a decade.

The West Yorkshire brigade dealt with a dozen 999 calls during the strike, which were handled by managers and non-FBU members.

In Huddersfield, some 20 firefighters – many who were on duty later yesterday or on rest days – joined the picket line outside the station.

They were backed by motorists who honked their horns in support of the strike.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was forced to implement contingency plans and has recruited community volunteers and trained them to provide emergency cover for the region.

The union is campaigning against changes it says will mean firefighters will have to work longer, pay more into their pensions and receive less in retirement.

Video Loading
 

The move could also see firefighters having to work on frontline duties until they are 60, the union argued.

Huddersfield FBU branch spokesman Scott Eluridge said: “The vast majority of Huddersfield firefighters are in support of the strike, I would say some 80%.

“But our decision to strike has not been taken lightly.

“We appreciate those who have supported us and we respect the decision of those who choose not to walk out.”

Eight firefighters who were on shift yesterday afternoon walked out, leaving just three remaining on duty.

Mr Eluridge said Huddersfield was reduced to one manned fire engine with the three workers and an additional manager, who was covering for the strike until 4pm.

Speaking of the pensions changes, he added: “We signed a contract that we could retire after 30 years or at the age of 55, which ever came sooner.

“This is a physically demanding job and it is just a fact of life that your fitness deteriorates as you get older.

“To have firefighters working at 60 is ludicrous.”

Dewsbury Fire Station crews support 4 hour strike
Dewsbury Fire Station crews support 4 hour strike

Dave Walton, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for West Yorkshire, said: “We are pleased to say that our regular staff have now returned back to work and we are satisfied by the effectiveness of our contingency plan developed as part of our standard continuity arrangements to provide fire cover, albeit on a restricted basis, to the communities and businesses of West Yorkshire.

“During the strike action, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended 12 incidents in comparison to nine incidents which occurred during the same time period and date in 2012.

“A total of 26 fire engines have been in operation during the industrial action.”

Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said firefighters would still have one of the most generous pensions in the public sector.

Mr Lewis said: “A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000-a-year pension, rising to£26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private sector pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.”