The Fire Brigade's Union has reacted strongly to Lord Hutton's proposals for the public sector pensions system, which were announced this week.  

A spokesman for the FBU said: "Firefighters are appalled to learn of the Hutton proposals on pensions, which suggest cuts in their pension provision, increasing their retirement age and upping their pension contributions. Firefighters already pay up to11 per cent contributions and to suggest an increase in these amounts, combined with the imposed pay freeze and the increase in VAT, is a step too far. 

"The firefighters' pension has recently been reformed substantially and is already fair, sustainable and affordable. Firefighting is a very physical profession. To suggest increasing retirement ages, is an ill-thought-out idea which is not in the public interest.   

"The FBU welcomes the notion of retaining defined benefit schemes, the protection of accrued benefits and understands the necessity to encourage low paid workers to become pension scheme members. But any suggestion that firefighter pension schemes are just too expensive is not accurate and must be challenged."  

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "FBU members will be united in their anger when they see this attack. They will feel betrayed and will demand that we oppose this unacceptable assault on their pension schemes. We will join with other public sector unions in protecting pension schemes and industrial action cannot be ruled out at this point."