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Fire strike: West Yorkshire bosses say take care as cover halved

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Beckley said: “We are still finalising the details but we expect the number of appliances will be in the mid-20s rather than over 50 that we usually have

Fire engine

Firefighters will walk out for nine hours on Thursday between 10am and 7pm.

The normal level of fire cover is not provided, with half the normal fire cover.

The decision for strike action relates to an on-going dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government over its public sector pension reform programme, with specific concerns about pension changes that firefighters say will mean they pay more, work longer and receive less

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Beckley said: “We are still finalising the details but we expect the number of appliances will be in the mid-20s rather than over 50 that we usually have.

“Half to a third of the appliances will be manned by fully-trained firefighters, with the remainder manned by those we’ve recruited to cover. They have basic firefighter training but they don’t have the specialist technical training of professional firefighters in terms of dealing with complex big building fires, but they can attend RTCs (road traffic collisions) and they have breathing apparatus training.”

The fire service is urging people to take a common-sense approach during the strike action , with Mr Beckley adding: “As it’s during the day we don’t have the sleeping risk element, but if people are bed-bound then we urge them not to smoke in bed.

“We ask people to drive carefully all the time, but take extra care.

“We will turn, but the response times will be slower than usual.”

Mr Beckley urged the Fire Brigades Union and the Government to talk and resolve the dispute ahead of a “challenging week” of strike action that is proposed next week.

The FBU will take unprecedented action in their dispute - with 15 walk outs from Monday, July 14 to Monday, July 21 - with walk outs from 6am-8am and 5pm-7pm daily, 11am-1pm and 11pm to 1am Saturday and 5pm-7pm on Sunday.

Mr Beckley added: “The dispute is between the FBU and the Government, so there is nothing that we can do at West Yorkshire level to resolve it. The differences have reached an impasse, but I implore both sides to talk and find a resolution.

“It coincides with the public sector strike so it’s clear firefighters are not alone in feeling there’s an attack on pensions and pay.

“It’s a difficult time for everybody, we do have some empathy with them, we are just trying to do the best we can to make sure the public are safe.”

Mr Beckley added: “Next week is a new dimension with 15 strikes over an eight-day period, none are at night-time which we are thankful for.

“We’ll continue to provide the best possible public service we can but it’s unlikely we can match the level of cover we’ve put on in the past. It’s possible there will be 20 appliances rather than the 25, but we won’t be as effective and the response times will be slower than usual.

“The message is stay safe.”

Firefighter advice:

Electrics: Do not overload plug sockets.

Roads: Stick to speed limits and always wear a seatbelt.

Cooking: Do not cook whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; never leave cooking unattended, even for a moment. If you have to leave the kitchen take pans off the heat and switch off appliances.

Smoking: ensure cigarettes are always fully extinguished; never smoke in bed; always use a proper non-combustible ashtray – never a bin.

For more safety information visit  www.takeextracare.co.uk

Schools to close and public buildings to shut as council workers, civil servants, firefighters and teachers strike on Thursday - read here

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