Two former on-call firefighters from Cleethorpes call for pension rights for historic service

  • Video report by Jonathan Brown

Two former part-time firefighters are calling on authorities to pay them a pension in recognition of their service.

Bob Duncan and Bill Thompson each spent more than a decade working as on-call - or 'retained' - firefighters in Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, on top of doing full time jobs elsewhere.

But they both left their roles before the date at which pensions were introduced for part-time crew members, which they say is short-changing hundreds, possibly thousands, of people.

Both men were among the first on the scene of an infamous fire that ripped through a night-time venue, called Pepper's, in Cleethorpes in May 1982.

It was one of thousands of incidents they attended, all while working full-time in neighbouring factories.

“By the time we got in there the roof had gone asbestos roof you could see daylight. There was fires all over the place," said Mr Duncan.

The pair also witnessed things that most people never have to.

Describing an incident he attended, Mr Duncan said he tried to save one woman.

“We had to pick her up and take her out and we just laid her in the front garden, and she died," he said.

"When you get home and you’ve time to think, it may not show on you but I think it does affect you in the long run," added Mr Thompson.

“All firemen should be due a pension for the service they put in," he said.

"They’re doing the same job as the whole time firemen so why shouldn’t they be given a pension."

Bob Duncan (left) and Bill Thompson both served at Cleethorpes fire station for more than a decade.

It was not until 2006 that on-call firefighters were awarded pension rights like their full-time counterparts, and more recently a legal challenge in 2018 gave pension access to those who were working before 1992 - but only if they were still firefighters by the early 2000s.

Both men feel they have missed out unfairly.

"I think it’s wrong," said Mr Thompson. "There’s not a lot of jobs where you put your life on the line and a fireman’s job you do put a life on the line, and I think it justifies a pension.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said it "values the contribution" made by on-call firefighters who help keep communities across the region safe.

But it added that firefighter pensions are statutory public service schemes, and that it had to apply the regulations laid down by the government.

The Home Office spokesperson said: "We recognise the bravery of on-call firefighters who work tirelessly to protect our communities."

However, they also said they do not comment on individual cases or "legal proceedings.”

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