Shutdown at fire stations
7:20am Tuesday 24th September 2013 in Latest News
SWINDON’S fire stations will shut for four hours tomorrow as firefighters across the country strike following a national dispute over their pensions.
Westlea will also stage walk-outs.
Wiltshire councillor Graham Payne, the chairman of the Wiltshire and Swindon Combined Fire Authority, said: “There are plans in place to combat the strikes. The retained firefighters will be providing cover along with other senior members.
“It will not be as complete of a service we normally provide but if there any major incidents the Fire Brigades Union have assured us that the firefighters would stop their strike.”
A plan to use retained firefighters is in place to provide cover but this is subject to change on the day if the firefighter cannot get time of work or is ill in the morning.
The government want to extend the age at which firefighters retire until the age of 60 but the union have said this will compromise safety.
Brent Thorley, Wiltshire brigade secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: “There should be 50 per cent of the retained firefighters on strike, and 100 per cent of the full-time ones.
“We have spent just over two years discussing the compromise deal, and everything we are doing is to force the government to talk to us.
“Because it’s only a few hours in the afternoon it’s like a shot across the bow to say we mean it, now sit down and talk to us and we can work it out.
“People could be put at risk, that’s why we don’t want to take strike action.”
Wiltshire’s chief fire officer Simon Routh-Jones urged people to take precautions to ensure alarms and fire detection systems are in place.
He said: “During the industrial action, we will still be responding to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive.
“We would therefore urge those people responsible for the safety of commercial or public buildings to be extra vigilant and to review their fire risk assessments.”
As well as public buildings, Mr Routh-Jones also asked people to take care in homes, especially when cooking, and for drivers to be cautious.
He said: “Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings.
“The best advice we can give is for everyone to ensure they have a smoke alarm in their home and to check the battery is working at least once a week.
“If you do have a fire, get out of the house, stay out and call 999 – we will respond.”
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