Contingency plans in place for Westcountry during fire strike, bosses announce
Fire brigade leaders in the Westcountry have issued reassurance ahead of national firefighter strikes announced today.
Fire crews will go on strike on Wednesday September 25 between midday and 4pm as part of a dispute with the Government over pension reforms.
Devon and Somerset chief fire officer Lee Howell said that while the issue is a matter between the Fire Brigades Union and Government, every fire and rescue service has a legal duty to maintain a level of service to local communities as best it can.
He said: “Like all other fire and rescue services, we have contingency plans prepared and will now put these arrangements in place ahead of the first strike.
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“We will continue to respond to 999 calls and will do everything we can to keep the public safe, including during any national fire strike.”
Phil Martin, Head of Community Fire Safety for the service, urged people to help by taking extra care and time to think about fire safety in the home.
He said residents should be “checking smoke alarms, ensuring you know what you would do if there was a fire and not making unnecessary calls to the fire and rescue service.”
Businesses have also been reminded to be mindful of their responsibilities, as during periods of industrial action the service may not be able to respond to fire safety enquiries within its usual timescales.
It remains the responsibility of employers, landlords and other premises occupiers to comply with fire safety law.
In Cornwall, chief fire officer Des Tidbury said he expected the majority of full time officer to be involved in the industrial action.
He said that over the past few weeks, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service had prepared “robust contingency plans” to maintain minimum levels of cover for dealing with major fires, serious flooding or road traffic collisions.
However, the reduced staffing levels mean that CFRS will not be able to respond to non emergency situations such as automated fire alarms from businesses or other non essential activities.
Mr Tidbury said: “This is a national dispute between members of the Fire Brigades Union and the Government over proposed changes to pensions and is not directed against Cornwall Council or Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.
“While the industrial action will inevitably have an impact on fire and rescue services, residents in Cornwall will not be left without emergency cover in life threatening situations.”