The Image

When the mainstream media plays out the stories and view of firefighters striking, the images they conjure up are ones of greed and inflexibility – the unwillingness to ‘modernise’ and embrace change. This could not be further from the truth. Firefighters are the champions of change.

They have been for decades.

The images I conjure are of them riding fire engines, at community fates or stood on picket lines fighting for their rights and the rights and safety of people in their communities. They are images of their families, who worry every time they leave the house for work in the morning. Their children, the ones that they dare to dream bigger for than they had dreamt for themselves and the children of families they may never meet; the ones sitting on fire engines, squirting hosereels and dressing up at school visits in mini fire uniforms – dreaming of one day doing the job that they admire so dearly in their youth. The ones they rescue from fires or the families whom they reunite when they are rescued from car accidents.

They are the ones that firefighters fight and strike for, whether they realise that overtly or not. They are post guardians, for future firefighters, they are the silent protectors who respond whenever we call them. They can be brash, yet tender, they can be serious but full of laughter. They see the good in people most would dismiss, they make mistakes, but who doesn’t? They are human, like you or I, just people who joined a career, to serve their community in the best way they know how, on a fire engine. A teacher, a friend, but a hero? A saviour? These are not their words. A firefighter is not in it for the accolades, but to give us a second chance if we have to dial the 9’s, they will fight for us, it’s in their name and it is why we should fight for them.

Future-firefighters

That is why the government should honour their deals, they are not after a hero’s pension, just what they had signed and agreed. They deserve better and so do we.

IDS, ATOS, austerity and Chingford. The fire rises

Later today (August 2nd 2013) in Chingford firefighters from across the UK are heading to Chingford, where Iain Duncan Smith who is the member of parliament for Chingford and also the head of the Department for Work and Pensions, to tell him and his constituents “we save people, not banks.” This is in response to the ideological austerity measures that are being pushed throughout the UK following the economic crash of 2008 that was created by bad banking practices and rogue politicians.

This phenomenon started in Spain, when Spanish firefighters opposed to their governments austerity measures, took a stand against the police . Stories have circulated that they have sought to protect people being evicted from their homes by the police and at times it has been quite frenetic out there.

Fire austerity APTOPIX Spain Financial Crisis

These scenes of ordinary working class people standing up for each other have touched some within the UK Fire and Rescue Service and their message is that their primary role and sole being for being a firefighter is to protect the people in the communities that they live and work in. They do this through education, prevention work and crucially by responding to emergency calls in someone’s time of need. Another way that firefighters can protect the public is to stand up against austerity that is having devastating consequences for the people all around us. They can provide a voice for those without one and for those waiting to find their voice.

For more info you can follow their work on Twitter with the hashtags: #WeSavePeopleNotBanks or #WSPNB