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Three Tyne & Wear fire stations saved labelled as 'victory for the people'

Gordon Chalk Sunderland Representative for the Fire Brigades' Union has said he is delighted by today's decision to keep three Tyne & Wear fire stations open.

Today, February 16, Tyne and Wear fire authority reversed its decision to close Wallsend, Gosforth and Sunderland - after receiving a petition signed by 30,000 people in Sunderland.


Sunderland rally to protest closure of fire station

Protestors will take to the city streets on today, February 7, to challenge the closure of Sunderland Central fire station.

Tyne and Wear is to lose a total of three fire stations, Sunderland Central, Gosforth and Wallsend - unless the fire authority reverse their decisions.

Demonstrators will march to Market Square from Sunderland Central fire station to draw attention to the fire authority's decisions.

Russ King, the FBU secretary for the Tyne and Wear brigade says the "drastic and unprecedented" proposals are a "genuine threat to public safety".

The Tyne and Wear Fire Authority did not want to comment on the rally.

Firefighters on strike until 9am

Firefighters have been on the picket lines across the North East. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Firefighters across the region will remain out on strike for another two and a half hours this morning.

They walked out 9am yesterday and will return to work today at 9am.

This is the 48th round of industrial action in a continuing dispute with the government over pension reforms.

Firefighters walk out for 48th time in pensions row

Firefighters in the North East are on strike again today in the latest round of industrial action in a long-running row with the government over pensions.

It's the 48th time members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out since the dispute flared last year.

The 24-hour strike starts at 9am.

The union said that after three years of discussions, firefighters still faced a "stark" choice of being sacked or having their pension severely reduced.

Firefighters in Sunderland during a previous strike. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action as a direct result of the Westminster government's failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.

"Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.

"We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal. This dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged."

– Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary

"This strike action is completely unnecessary and we are disappointed by the FBU's decision, which does nothing but damage the good reputation of the fire and rescue service.

"The Government has worked hard to give firefighters one of the most generous pensions in the public sector.

"The scheme that is currently before Parliament provides greater ill-health and death benefits than the Fire Brigades Union's preferred approach and I believe that the approach we are using will be fairer on all, supporting those wishing to work longer - something absolutely essential if the firefighters' pension scheme is to remain sustainable."

– Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt


Potential reprieve for region's fire services

Last month we told you that five million pounds worth of cuts were approved that would see the closure of Sunderland Central, Wallsend and Gosforth fire stations.

Today, though, the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority says it now may be able to avoid the closures - at least in the short term.

But, the Fire Brigades Union have not greeted the news with enthusiasm.

They say that all the Fire Authority has done is create confusion and uncertainty.

Julie Harrison reports.

Fire dog tested against technology

Scrappy the fire dog is being tested against technology. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The North East's only hydro-carbon detection dog has been put through his paces against the latest technology.

Scrappy has been helping gather evidence at suspicion fires for five months by sniffing out flammable liquids.

He wears a harness and special boots, donated by a North East company, to protect his paws.

Teesside University are comparing the cocker spaniel's skills to devices used by the fire service to detect hydro-carbons like petrol which may have been used to start fires.

So far, they have found that the machine can't trace chemicals after 8-10 days whereas Scrappy has no trouble at all finding the scent.

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