WILTSHIRE Fire & Rescue Service is finalising its contingency plans to deal with further strikes by firefighters.

The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) has announced that, as part of its on-going national dispute with the Government over pension reforms, its members will be walking out three times this weekend:

• 12noon to 5pm on Friday, May 2 

• 2pm to 2am on Saturday, May 3

• 10am to 3pm on Sunday, May 4

As a result, personnel at the wholetime fire stations at Swindon, Stratton, Westlea, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Salisbury will be unavailable for fire calls. The on-call stations at Calne, Warminster, Melksham and Pewsey will also be on strike.

The service has established a range of plans in order to maintain fire cover across the county, which will include crews responding from alternative locations. On-call stations unaffected by the strike should also be providing fire cover as usual.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “Having not had any industrial action since the New Year, and with talks having been held between the FBU and the Government, it is immensely frustrating that we again find ourselves planning for strikes. This is a national dispute, yet it is individual Fire & Rescue Services, and therefore local communities, that are bearing the brunt.”

He added: “As on previous occasions, we will be making every effort to provide the best possible fire cover for people in Wiltshire and Swindon, but we will be operating with reduced resources and this will have an effect. During the strike periods, we will still respond to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive and, with larger premises, we may send a smaller attendance than usual in the first instance.”

The service have offered tips on staying safe this weekend:

• Always make sure you have working smoke alarms and test them every week.

• Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

• If you smoke, make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished. Take particular care when you’re tired or been drinking, as it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning.

• Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire – get out, stay out, call 999.

• If you’re out on the roads, drive to the conditions and never drive if you’ve been drinking. Remember, it’s better to arrive a few minutes late than not arrive at all.

For further safety advice, visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk.