Fire service prepares for latest strike action

Wiltshire Times: Chief fire officer Simon Routh-Jones Chief fire officer Simon Routh-Jones

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is finalising its contingency plans to deal with another firefighter strike later this week.

Following a 24-hour walkout last Thursday, members of the Fire Brigades’ Union will be striking again this Saturday, between 10am and 5pm.

It is expected that crews at the full-time fire stations in Swindon, Stratton, Westlea, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Salisbury will be unavailable for emergency calls at these times.

The on-call stations at Calne, Warminster, Melksham and Pewsey will also be on strike.

The Service has established a range of plans in order to maintain a emergency response across the county, which will include crews being mobilised from ‘resilience’ sites.

On-call fire stations unaffected by the strike should also be providing fire cover as usual.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “Yet again we are faced with planning for a strike that is down to a national dispute between the FBU and the Government.

"As on previous occasions, we will be operating with reduced resources and this will have an effect on the service we can provide.

"However, I am confident that our contingency plans will be sufficient to cope.

"As ever, we would remind people that, during the strike period, we will still respond to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive and, with larger premises, we may send a smaller attendance than usual in the first instance.”

With the onset of summer, the Service would like people to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities, however they advise of the importance of the public remaining extra vigilant during periods of industrial action.

This is particularly important for agricultural workers who may be carrying out controlled burning where warmer weather increases the likelihood of fires burning out of control.

 

Some top safety tips include:

• Always make sure you have working smoke alarms and test them every week

• If you’re going out for the day, take five minutes to unplug unused electrical items, make sure no sockets are overloaded, close all internal doors and test your smoke alarms

• Avoid leaving cooking unattended, especially if you’ve been drinking or are on medication. If you've been drinking, it's much safer to get a takeaway than to cook while under the influence of alcohol

• If you smoke, dispose of cigarettes carefully and don’t smoke in bed. Ideally, smoke outside as this reduces the risk of fire. Make sure matches and lighters are kept away from children

• With the warm weather, people may decide to have a barbecue – make sure the remaining charcoal is completely cold before throwing the ashes away

• If you decide to have a bonfire, make sure it is lit well away from fencing, hedging or buildings. Don’t leave it unattended and have a water supply to hand in case the fire starts to spread

• Drivers should stick to the speed limit and be mindful of the conditions – it’s better to get there a few minutes late than not at all

• If you do have a fire during the strike period, get out, stay out, call 999 – the Fire & Rescue Service will respond

 

In addition, businesses are reminded to check their fire risk assessments and ensure that any staff members working over the strike period are fully briefed on what to do if an emergency happens.

For further advice on fire and road safety, please visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk

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