FIREFIGHTERS will walk out again next week in a string of strikes against Government plans to raise the retirement age and change their pensions.

The latest series of strikes to take place in the ongoing bitter dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government is set to take place over eight consecutive days.

From Saturday, August 9, until August 16, union members will walk out between the hours of noon and 2pm and 10.59pm and 11.59pm each day.

It is expected that firefighters from all of Swindon’s fire stations, including Stratton and Westlea will take part.

Wiltshire FBU secretary Brent Thorley said: “It’s quite disruptive and it means that a lot of work has to go in to any plans to cover during the strike, which we hope will be fed back to the MPs and back to central Government.

“It’s just a tactic to have maximum impact on the powers that be but minimum impact to the public.

“We thought there might not be any more action for a little while because the new fire officer was being appointed.

“But that action is being taken so soon after the last one means that the Government hasn’t changed it’s position.

“I think the public have got to understand that we are only doing this because we’re hitting a brick wall.

“All we want are proper, constructive talks with the Government and that just hasn’t happened yet.

“But we’re open to talks and would stop strike action even before we started if they sat down and talked constructively with us.”

Once again Wiltshire Fire And Rescue has put contingency plans in place to deal with the impending industrial action to maintain emergency cover across county.

Cover will include a number of crews responding to emergency calls from alternative locations, and on-call stations unaffected by the strike will also be providing an emergency response as usual on all strike dates.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “As on previous occasions, we will have reduced resources during these strike periods.

“We will respond to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive.”

Wiltshire Fire And Rescue has also issued advice to the public in a bid to help them remain safe during the period of strike action.

These include ensuring that they install working smoke alarms and regularly test them, never leave cooking unattended in the kitchen where the majority of fires start, avoid cooking while under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when cooking is finished.

Smokers are reminded to ensure cigarettes are fully extinguished when they have finished.

Households are also reminded to make sure everyone knows how to react in the event of a fire, and to be extra careful to avoid an accident while driving.