December 8 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Fire chiefs in Norfolk have insisted they have contingency plans in place as members of the Fire Brigades Union stage further strike action.
The FBU is staging two further firefighters’ strikes from 6.30pm until 11pm tomorrow and from 6am and 8am on Monday, because agreement has not been reached over changes to the national pension scheme.
Bosses at Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service said the 999 service will continue to operate during the industrial action, but warned that some fire stations will be completely shut.
They say contingency plans are in place to ensure emergency fire calls will continue to be answered, but said 999 calls will be prioritised and responses dealt with by whatever resource is available.
The first strike action took place on Wednesday, September 25, when union members walked out for four hours.
Nigel Williams, chief fire officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Once again we have a contingency plan in place. We have been working hard to ensure we are as prepared as possible and have cover across the county.
“This is taking place during the Bonfire season so is a time when people are likely to be organising their own fireworks displays at home.
“If this is the case I would urge them to be extra vigilant and prioritise their safety. However, our advice would be for people, if possible, to attend organised events rather than holding them at home.”
The fire service said there will be the closure of fire stations in urban parts of the county where FBU membership is strongest, as well as some in rural areas, meaning a reduced level of cover during the two strike periods.
Dan Roper, cabinet member for public protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is unfortunate that these new dates have been called, but Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service has a plan in place to deal with incidents as best they can by using the resources available.
“A number of stations in Norfolk are staffed by trained firefighters who are not taking part in the strike action so will continue to operate as normal and we will do the very best we can to protect the county’s residents.
“Calls will be prioritised as they come in but I would urge the people of Norfolk to take all the necessary precautions particularly as it is the season when people may be arranging fireworks events at home. It is also important for people to watch their speed and take extra care when driving.”
The strikes have come about because of disagreements over changes to the national pension scheme.
The union is campaigning against changes it says will mean firefighters will have to work longer, pay more into their pensions and receive less in retirement.
The move will also see firefighters having to work on frontline duties until they are 60, the union argued.
The government maintains that the changes were fair and would still give firemen and women decent pensions when they retire.
People are being urged to take the following additional steps to reduce the threat of fire:
Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly.
Make a fire action plan so that everyone in your house knows how to escape in the event of fire.
Take care when cooking with hot oil and think about using thermostatically controlled deep fat fryers.
Never leave lit candles unattended.
Ensure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully.
Never smoke in bed.
Keep matches and lighters away from children.
Keep clothing away from heating appliances.
Take care in the kitchen. Accidents whilst cooking account for 59% of fires in the home.
Take special care when you are tired or when you’ve been drinking.