Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service reminds firms to take extra care during weekend strikes

Simon Routh-Jones, Wiltshire Chief Fire Officer

Simon Routh-Jones, Wiltshire Chief Fire Officer

First published in News

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is reminding local businesses to take extra care when firefighters go out on strike this week.

As part of a national dispute between the Fire Brigades’ Union and the Government, firefighters will be taking industrial action across three days this weekend:

• Friday, May 2, noon to 5pm; 

• Saturday, May 3, 2pm to 2am; 

• Sunday, May 4, 10am to 3pm. 

This will result in reduced emergency fire cover across the county for the periods of strike action.

The service says a reduction in emergency fire cover does not increase the risk of a fire occurring at the workplace or in other public buildings but it does mean that employers and building managers in the commercial, public and voluntary sectors need to be extra aware of fire safety.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “During the industrial action, we will still be responding 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.

"We would therefore urge those people responsible for the safety of commercial or public buildings to be extra vigilant and to review their fire risk assessments.

“Such risk assessments are required in law, so should already be in place.

"However, we would recommend that all fire safety measures are checked so that they continue to be adequate and appropriate, and both fire alarm and fire suppression systems are checked to ensure that they work properly.”

The following top tips should be followed by all businesses:

• Review your risk assessment and emergency plan – make sure it’s up to date.

• Make sure your fire detection systems are working effectively and that everyone in the building(s) understands what they should do if the alarms activate.

• Practise your emergency evacuation plan to ensure that both staff and visitors can escape quickly and easily – don’t forget that people with disabilities may need extra help.

• Ensure that fire wardens are properly trained and that their training is up to date.

• Reduce fire hazards – keep sources of ignition well away from flammable materials or substances.

• Ask staff to be extra vigilant to the risk of fire and to report any concerns.

• Keep escape routes free from obstacles and check signage and emergency lighting.

• Keep fire doors shut – they should always be shut anyway.

• Switch off electrical equipment when not in use.

• Make sure any firefighting equipment you have works and that everyone expected to use it knows how to do so safely.

• Reduce the risk of arson – minimise the build-up of rubbish and store it in a safe place. Keep your building secure.

• Take special care to avoid the possibility of a false alarm – during industrial action, the Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service will only respond to automated alarms that have been verified by a 999 call.

• If you do have a fire, evacuate the building and call 999 – you will get a response.

For further information on fire safety and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk/yourbusiness

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