December 5 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Fire chiefs in Norfolk are expecting about half the county’s fire stations to stay open when a strike by members of the Fire Brigades Union takes place.
Almost 80pc voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot in a national dispute over pensions, which will see members walk out between noon and 4pm tomorrow.
Bosses from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service said 999 calls would still be answered, but staff would have to consider the most appropriate response for each call, before whatever available resource was despatched.
Dan Roper, cabinet member for public protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “I acknowledge this is a national and legally constituted dispute but would regret any action that causes any extra unnecessary risk to members of the public. This will be a testing time for us and we hope for a speedy and constructive resolution to the dispute. Our first priority is to protect Norfolk people and so we will do all we can to keep services running as smoothly as possible.
“This is a time when we need to ask Norfolk people to help us by taking all necessary precautions... I would also ask for some understanding in that, with the best will in the world, sometimes we will simply not be able to provide the service that is wanted and that we want to give.”
Nigel Williams, Norfolk’s chief fire officer, has also appealed for people to be vigilant about matters of fire safety in their homes and at work.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis said: “The decision by the FBU to take strike action is entirely unnecessary and avoidable... The pension on offer to firefighters is one of the most generous public service pensions available. A firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. To get the same pension from a private scheme firefighters would have to contribute twice as much.”
• Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service declined our offer to pen a piece against the strikes.