FIREFIGHTERS walked out on strike as part of an ongoing dispute with the government over pens-ions.

Crews from across Bolton and the country took part in the industrial action between noon and 5pm yesterday.

Further strikes will take place today between 2pm and 2pm and from 10am until 3pm on Bank Holiday Monday.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales will strike for a total of 22 hours, after the government passed legislation to increase their retirement age from 55 to 60.

The FBU claims firefighters who retire at the age of 55 now stand to lose 45 per cent of their pension.

Crew manager Richard Henthorne, from Bolton Central, said: “I think this strike shows the strength of feeling towards what the government is trying to do to us, because we don’t take this sort of action lightly.

“There are some lads here who aren’t even affected by it but they have still turned up to support us. It’s a massive boost to see the together-ness and spirit of everyone here today.”

Mr Henthorne’s sent-iments were echoed by his colleagues. Andy Kopicki, a firefighter from Bolton Central, said: “We signed up for a pension scheme and the government is trying to change the level of contribution to that scheme. If you sign a deal, both parties should agree on the terms of it. If you signed a mortgage deal, you wouldn’t suddenly completely change the terms of that. We want to make a stand to show that we are not happy.”

As part of the strikes, the FBU has announced a ban on voluntary overtime between noon on May 2 and noon on May 9.

Similar contingency plans to the previous strikes have been announced by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, with the public warned that it may not be possible to attend less serious callouts such as small rubbish fires and lift failures.