FIREFIGHTERS are to go on a four-day strike as part of the national pensions dispute - in the run-up to Bonfire Night.
The Fire Brigades Union announced today that its members across England will walk out at 6pm on Sunday, October 31, and stay out until 6pm on Tuesday, November 4.
Tyne and Wear’s fire chief said talks are ongoing in the hope the strike can be avoided, but urged members of the public to take extra care.
Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling said: “The Fire Authority and I have a legal duty to provide a fire and rescue service as far as is reasonably practicable.
“As with all fire and rescue services, military support and the green goddesses are no longer an option to us in carrying out our duty to protect the public.
“During periods of industrial action, the service will offer a limited response service.
“A reduced number of appliances will be strategically placed across Tyne and Wear, according to risk and the ability to maintain the best speed of response.
“As ever, our appliances will be available to attend incidents across the whole of Tyne and Wear and their attendance at incidents will be prioritised according to the risk to life and property.
“Trained fire service officers, and staff we have recruited and trained will drive and staff a number of our appliances.
“This includes staff the service has temporarily recruited who were successful during our last recruitment campaign process, but for whom there were no vacancies at the time.
“It also includes former military and specialist personnel.
“Our plans have been tested a number of times and we will be putting them into action again during this latest period of industrial action by the FBU.
“The plans are not designed to replicate the excellent service our firefighters provide every day of the week; however it is designed to provide a core operational service in the event of industrial action.
“We hope that talks between the two parties will continue and that the industrial action can still be avoided.
“We would like to ask the public to take extra care with fire safety during the industrial action.
“The strike will begin at the end of the half term school holidays which runs up to the Bonfire period.
“I am urging everyone to take extra care, and as always, we would encourage people to attend organised displays rather than have their own bonfire or fireworks event.
“As some of the strike days take place over a weekend when many people may be off work and enjoying themselves, we would like people to take extra care when cooking, and to avoid doing so if they are under the influence of alcohol.
“More than 60 per cent of house fires we attend start in the kitchen. We would advise people never to leave cooking unattended nor to use chip pans.
“We would encourage people to ensure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home and to check they work.
“Smoke alarms give you early warning of fire and can mean the difference between life and death, giving you extra time to get out safely.
“Every household should have an escape plan too and ensure that everyone who lives there knows what it is and what to do should a fire break out.
“Fire and smoke can spread rapidly within a matter of minutes. Finally, if you do have a fire, get out of the house, stay out and call 999.”