Firefighters take weekend strike action

PUBLISHED: 08:55 02 May 2014


WESTON will be left with no dedicated fire crews during three periods over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend, with firefighters set to join a national strike over pensions.

Crews from Avon Fire And Rescue Service have stood alongside colleagues countrywide in a series of walkouts over the past six months, after more than three quarters voted for industrial action.

They hope the tough stance will force the Government to rethink changes to firefighters’ pensions.

The latest rounds of action will see crews down tools for five hours from noon on Friday, from 2pm on Saturday until 2am on Sunday, and then from 10am-3pm later that day.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU), said: “After three years of negotiations and an intense four months presenting an indisputable, evidence-based case for the need to ensure a pension scheme that takes into account the unique occupation of firefighting, the Government is still burying its head in the sand.

“Several members of Government were only too keen to praise firefighters during the winter floods, but their words amount to nothing when they simultaneously ignore issues that threaten the future of firefighters and their families.”

As with previous walkouts, this will mean a skeleton service will be providing cover for incidents across North Somerset.

However, the paucity of operational crews during this period means fire chiefs will once again be forced to prioritise 999 incidents.

It could mean some fires are ignored if there is not judged to be any lives at risk.

Avon’s chief fire officer Kevin Pearson said: “This is a national dispute over which Avon Fire Authority has no power to resolve.

“Although we have contingency arrangements in place, the reality is we will not be in a position to provide the excellent emergency response we usually do.

“In the lead up to and during the strike I would ask local people to take steps to ensure their homes and businesses are as safe as possible.

“Although it’s good practice anytime, it’s particularly important during a period when our emergency response capability will be reduced.

“Ahead of the bank holiday weekend business owners and managers should also be aware of their responsibilities to staff and customers under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

“During the strike 999 calls will be answered in the normal way as control staff are not involved in the action.

“Although we will be prioritising calls our advice remains the same - if you have a fire you should get out, stay out and call 999.”

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