Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service put plans in place to manage Christmas Eve strike

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Plans in place for fire strikes Plans in place for fire strikes

The Fire Brigades’ Union has called three strike actions over the festive period, starting with a five hour walkout by its members from 7pm on Christmas Eve.

As on previous occasions, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has contingency plans in place to allow as effective an emergency response as possible.

During the industrial action, which is part of a national dispute between the FBU and the Government, there will be no cover from the wholetime fire stations at Swindon, Stratton, Westlea, Trowbridge, Chippenham and Salisbury, or from the on-call stations in Calne, Melksham, Pewsey and Warminster.

Personnel at the remaining 14 on-call fire stations should be providing cover as usual, and additional resilience appliances will operate from Swindon, the Salisbury area, Melksham and Warminster, again crewed by on-call firefighters.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “It is particularly disappointing that the Fire Brigades’ Union has chosen Christmas and the New Year period to take further industrial action, as this is supposed to be the season of goodwill.

“Once again, we will make every effort to provide the best possible emergency response for our local communities, but having reduced resources will undoubtedly have an effect.”

He added: “We will still respond to 999 calls during these latest strikes, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive, depending on where the incident is.

“We also have to look at the number of appliances we send in the first instance. The important thing for us is that local people do everything they can to take extra care.”

Some top tips for staying safe on Christmas Eve:

• Make sure you have smoke alarms fitted and test that they work.

• Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children and away from curtains, decorations, cards and wrapping paper.

• Make sure all Christmas lights are switched off and unplugged before you go to bed or leave the house. Check that your lights conform to British Standard BS EN 60598.

• If you have a real fire, make sure you have the chimney swept and always use a fireguard.

• Don’t leave cooking unattended, and avoid cooking if you’ve been out for a festive drink.

• If you smoke, make sure cigarettes have been fully extinguished. Take particular care when you’re tired or have 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 and call 999.

• If you’re out on the roads, drive to the conditions and never drive if you’ve been drinking. Make sure your car is road safe before you set off, and take regular breaks if you’re driving any distance.

Following the action on 24 December, the FBU has said it will strike from 6.30pm to 12.30am on New Year’s Eve and then from 6.30am to 8.30am on 3 January.

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

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