Firefighters across Wiltshire will strike on Friday for the first time since the New Year, after talks to resolve a long-running pay dispute broke down again.
The Fire Brigades’ Union has been in negotiation with the government for three years over proposed changes to pay and conditions, with a series of coordinated strikes held last year, including walkouts on Bonfire Night and New Year’s Eve.
This latest round of action will take place between noon and 5pm, Friday, May 2, on Saturday between 2pm and 2am, and from 10am to 3pm on Sunday.
There will also be a ban on voluntary overtime from 3pm on Sunday, until noon next Friday.
During the strikes there will be no cover at the full-time station in Chippenham, and in the on-call stations at Calne and Pewsey.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “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.
“Nevertheless, we remain totally committed to resolving the dispute through negotiation, and are ready to meet to consider a workable proposal as soon as possible.”
Wiltshire’s 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 and rescue services, and therefore local communities, that are bearing the brunt.
“We will be making every effort to provide the best possible fire cover, 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's offered tips on staying safe include:
• Always make sure you have working smoke alarms and test them every week.
• Never leave cooking unattended. Most 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