Fourteen years on, I still think the job is fantastic – it feels great to know that you’ve made a difference. The problem is that as firefighters, we’re feeling less and less valued by this government every day.
In the last 7 years, we’ve faced the government’s pay cap & freeze, we’ve seen our pension age & contributions increase and fire services have been cut beyond breaking point across the country. The impact on morale and the service we deliver to the public is huge.
I’m now seeing my colleagues struggle to support their families, many have had to take on second jobs to make ends meet. It’s hard.
Me and my wife live in a small house and the majority of our earnings go towards this. At the end of the month, there is no money left to put into savings. My family live and work in Italy and if I go to visit them it takes months to get back on my feet.
I know that if we choose to have a family, I’ll have no choice but to take on a second job as many of my colleagues do, that would be on top of two nine-hour day shifts and two 15-hour night shifts of firefighting a week.
At the same time, cuts to the Fire Service have caused firefighter shortages in brigades around the country. This puts us under great strain, which takes its toll when you’re having to make really difficult decisions in emergency situations every day.
It’s no wonder we are now seeing so many more firefighters struggling with mental health issues.
The situation doesn’t make sense to me. We’re full-time, highly-skilled workers, doing what can be a very dangerous job on a daily basis. It shouldn’t be this hard to make ends meet in one of the largest economies in the world.
One day we will have politicians patting us on the back – after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, for example – but the next day they tell us they’re going to keep cutting out pay and our funding anyway.
The decision to cut is political. We know the money is there, but it’s not going to the right people or the right places – by choice
It has now gone too far – enough is enough - public servants need fair pay, and they need it now.