FBU pensionsThe President of the Chief Fire Officers Association has described the actions of striking firefighters who walked away from a major blaze in east London as "shameful".

Paul Fuller has urged those members of the London FBU who carried out their planned walkout despite a major fire in Dagenham to "reflect" on their behaviour and the impact of their actions on their relations with the public.

"What we saw a few firefighters do at Dagenham last night when they walked away from an incident in progress I think was shameful, and they should be ashamed of that," he said.

"I understand their right to strike. All over the country firefighters were on strike, and in London as well, and behaved impeccably and professionally.

"What I did not want to see was firefighters walking away from an incident, and I don't think the fire service would want to associate itself with that sort of behaviour."

In breach of the agreement
All on-duty firefighters due to strike in London on Friday night were recalled to their stations by the London Fire Brigade under an agreed and voluntary procedure in the event of a major incident.

The brigade said it expected striking firefighters to remain at the scene because of the seriousness of the incident, but the union said it was not life-threatening.

FBU London Secretary Paul Embery said the recall was not agreed but London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson suggested that the agreement was implemented because of the size of the blaze and the resources needed to deal with it.

By not responding to the recall, he said it was the FBU that was in breach of the agreement.

Failed to offer any firm guarantees
The London Fire Brigade received 124 emergency 999 calls during the strike, with replacement crews attending 17 incidents in the capital, including the one at Dagenham.

Police officers and ambulance crews also attended the scene. There were no reported injuries, but several local roads were closed and motorists advised to avoid the area if possible.

Members of the FBU walked out at 6.30pm, mounting picket lines outside fire stations until the stoppage ended at 11pm.

A further two-hour strike will be held from 6am on Monday, the day before Bonfire Night.

The union held a four-hour stoppage last month but called off another strike after it appeared a deal was in sight, but officials said the Government and fire employers had failed to offer any firm guarantees on jobs or pensions as a result of changing the pension age from 55 to 60.