A RETIRED firefighter says he is outraged his former bosses have asked if he will cross a picket line to cover for former colleagues if they go on strike.
The Fire Brigades Union is balloting members across the county over possible industrial action in a dispute with the Government on pension reform.
Bosses at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service have been making contingency plans in the event of an such action, by contacting former employees and offering them the chance to come back and provide cover.
They say they have a legal obligation to ensure the service can continue to provide an emergency response throughout any local industrial action.
But the move has not gone down well with some former fire fighters, who say are not happy at being asked to turn their backs on colleagues they have worked alongside.
One former officer to receive such a letter was Steven Jones, of Cwmafan.
He said: "After 29 years of having the privilege of working alongside some truly remarkable people, I now being 'offered an opportunity' to turn my principles of friendship upside down to accommodate the managers of this organisation.
"While my colleagues stand on the picket line and strive to defend the pension rights of not only themselves, but of future generations of fire fighters, I'm being invited to take their jobs.
"I understand how management need some resilience, but they are asking us to turn blacklegs for the price of Judas to friendships and people I have worked with.
"I found the letter from my former employer highly distasteful, and morally corrupt."
The Fire Brigades Union says it has serious safety concerns if former officers are drafted back into action to provide strike cover.
Barrie Davies, FBU brigade secretary for Mid and West Wales said: "We do have serious concerns that any retired firefighter contacted to provide operational strike cover will not have time to complete the training required to ensure their safety at any incident they may be called to.
"There are also concerns regarding the health of retired firefighters as they will no longer have been required to undergo annual medical checks to ensure their operational fitness."
A spokeswoman for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is currently balloting its members regarding industrial action over a dispute with the Government on Pension Reforms. This ballot is due to close on August 29, 2013.
"Whilst this is a national dispute between the FBU and the Government, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Authority has a legal obligation to ensure it can continue to provide an emergency response throughout any local industrial action.
"The authority must make provision for the purposes of promoting fire safety, extinguishing fires, protecting life and property and rescuing people in the event of other emergencies. In so doing we must secure the provision of personnel, services and equipment necessary to meet all normal requirements.
"We have a duty to protect our communities and to ensure 24/7 fire cover should any strike by the FBU go ahead. We are therefore looking at all alternative means to maintain an effective service to respond to emergency calls. To assist in achieving this, we have written to those fire fighters who have recently retired, and still have a level of professional skills that be called upon at short notice in the event of any industrial action."