Firefighters set to strike for four days over fireworks weekend

Fire engine
Fire engine

Fire fighters are urging people to take extra care as they prepare to stage a four-day strike over bonfire weekend.

The Fire Brigade Union announced its fire and rescue services members will be on a continuous strike from 6pm on Friday, October 31 until 4pm on Tuesday, November 4.

The walk-out covers the main bonfire night events, but firefighters are also warning people to take extra care while driving, and in the home.

Bedfordshire Deputy Chief Fire Officer Glen Ranger said: “We will prioritise any 999 calls we receive, so that we can respond to those with a potential threat to life and we will still have qualified firefighters and officers responding to emergencies.

“However, we will also need the support and help of the public to minimise the risk of fire and other emergencies. With this strike taking place in the build-up to Bonfire Night, we urge the public to use common sense, and minimise the potential for fire to start, in the home as well as outdoors.”

He added: “Fire is not the only concern, we also need the public to take extra care whilst driving and reduce the risk of road traffic collisions.”

The industrial action was called after the Department for Communities and Local Government refused to bring a new offer to negotions with FBU over pensions, despite two months of talks.

Under Government proposals firefighters will have to work until they are 60 instead of 55, pay more into their pensions and get less in retirement.

Due to the rigorous fitness requirements of the fire service, many firefighters are expected to be unable to work to 60 and therefore risk losing half of their pension.

According to FBU, Westminster is the only government in the United Kingdom which has offered no new proposals, with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales all putting forward new proposals for firefighters to consider.

Bedfordshire Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller said: “Whilst this is a national dispute between the FBU and the Government, the impact will be felt locally and the impact of a four-day, continuous strike should not be underestimated.

“Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service does have well-practiced plans to continue to deliver services during the periods of FBU strike action, based on the previous strikes over the past year, and these plans will again be put into place.”

He added: “However, as with any period of strike action, this will be a reduced service, compared to normal. A 96-hour strike will be even more challenging, particularly if we are busy with 999 calls, but we will be doing all that we can to manage the situation effectively.”