UK – A test case brought by firefighters over pensions equality is set to go to the House of Lords, the UK’s final court of appeal.

The case involving so-called retained, or part-time, firefighters will be heard by five Law Lords in the upper chamber tomorrow and Thursday, according to the parliamentary agenda.

The case is being brought by the Fire Brigades Union and centres on what it calls the exclusion of some 15,000 retained firefighters from the Firefighters' Pension Scheme.

“They claim they are being treated differently because they are part-time workers and that this is unlawful,” the union said. The union previously lost the case in the Court of Appeal in July 2004.

The court had accepted the employers' arguments that retained firefighters did not do the same or broadly similar work and rejected the appeal.

“Without retained firefighters most areas of the country would not have a full fire service and some would have none at all,” the union said.

The case is being taken by 12 retained firefighters after an original 12,000 cases were whittled down.

"This case is about securing fairness and justice for thousands of retained firefighters across the UK,” said FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said.

"Retained firefighters have worked in the front line at almost every major incident. Huge areas of this country rely on retained firefighters and when the public are being rescued they don't stop to ask your employment status."