The winner of this yearâ€™s Firefighter of the Year award has appealed to the government to abandon attacks on firefighter pensions.
Paul Rich, a London firefighter whose brave actions and quick thinking helped ensure that the lives of six children were saved during a fire inÂ Southall on Christmas Day 2012, won the award at a ceremony last night at the Park Plaza Hotel in London attended by the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles.
Rich said: â€œThe governmentâ€™s attacks will make firefightersâ€™ pensions unworkable, unaffordable and unfair, and they must work with the Fire Brigades Union to find a negotiated solution.
â€œTheyâ€™re ignoring all the evidence and imposing a scheme that will be devastating for thousands of firefighters across the country.
â€œIâ€™m really proud of the award I received but firefighters donâ€™t work for praise. We just want to be treated fairly and have the promises we were made about our retirement honoured.â€
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: â€œPaulâ€™s actions helped ensure that six children are still alive today and weâ€™re proud to be able to say heâ€™s a member of the Fire Brigades Union.
â€œAcross the UK firefighters routinely put their lives on the line and operate in debilitating conditions to keep the public safe.
â€œMembers of this government love to bathe in firefightersâ€™ reflective glory and are never short of praise when it suits them, yet are devastating our fire service with cuts and ripping up agreements over their pensions.
â€œItâ€™s time to bring this dispute to an end so firefighters like Paul can focus on serving the public – and look forward to a retirement free from the burdens the government seems intent on imposing.â€