FBU pensionsFirefighters will vote during the summer on strike action over an ‘unworkable’ pension scheme proposal that they say could lead to thousands facing the sack as they get older.

The Fire Brigades Union decision to hold a strike vote after almost two years of negotiations was prompted when the government set a 12 July deadline for firefighters to accept proposals or face imposition of the changes.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Expecting large numbers of 60 year olds to fight fires and rescue families is dangerous to the public and to firefighters.

"The government is simply ignoring the evidence about the physical demands of firefighting and has been unable to answer our concerns during two years of negotiations. None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety. We hope common sense prevails, and the government returns to the negotiating table."

A recent government review found that half of firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. Beyond the age of 55, two thirds fail to meet the standards.

While the government has suggested older firefighters will be moved to less physically demanding roles, the Union claim only a handful of ‘redeployment’ opportunities exist in fire and rescue services.

Under current proposals, firefighters who retire at age 55 will lose around 50% of their pensions.

The ballot will take place between 18 July and 29 August.