24-hour firefighters' strike: Final touches put to Wiltshire contingency plans

Wiltshire Times: Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is finalising its contingency plans to deal with further strikes by firefighters.

The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) has announced that, as part of its on-going national dispute with the Government over pension reforms, its members will be walking out for 24 hours from 9am on Thursday, June 12.

A further seven hour strike has also been announced for Saturday, June 21, starting at 10am.

It is anticipated that personnel at the fulltime fire stations at 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 fire cover across Wiltshire, which will include crews responding from alternative locations.

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

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “By walking out for 24 hours, which will be the longest strike action so far, the FBU is clearly out to cause the maximum disruption.

"As I have said before, the union’s dispute is with the Government, yet the impact of these strikes is entirely on individual fire and rescue services and the communities we are here to protect.

“As on previous occasions, we will be making every effort to provide the best possible emergency response for people in Wiltshire and Swindon, but we will be operating with reduced resources and this will have an effect.

"During the strike periods, 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.”

The service has provided the following tips on staying safe during the strike:

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

• Never leave cooking unattended. Most fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

• If you smoke, make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished. Take particular care when you’re tired or been drinking, as it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning.

• Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire – get out, stay out, call 999.

• If you’re out on the roads, drive to the conditions and never drive if you’ve been drinking. Remember, it’s better to arrive a few minutes late than not arrive at all.

For further safety advice, visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk

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