Call for Extra Vigilance During Strike

Andy Johnson
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Andy Johnson
11th August, 2014

The Fire Brigade’s Union will be taking a series of strikes over eight days from Saturday August 9 until Saturday August 16.

There will be two periods of strikes on each of the eight days with the first period between 12pm and 2pm and the second between 11pm and midnight each day. The strikes are in support of the FBU’s ongoing campaign against changes to pensions proposed by the Department of Communities and Local Government.  

Andy Johnson, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Again, similar to the previous periods of strike, it is predominantly our wholetime fire stations in Shrewsbury and Telford that will be impacted by the planned strikes. Our On-call staffed fire stations, which are largely based in the more rural areas of Shropshire, are less likely to be affected.

“I would like to thank the On-Call crews on behalf of the Fire Authority and the local community for the support provided by them during this dispute. Many of the stations are making extra efforts to provide cover in particular during the periods when the full time crews are out on strike.

“In addition to the On-Call crews, we will have contingency arrangements in place to provide reduced emergency cover for the whole county. This will, for example, involve the staffing of fire engines with wholetime firefighters who are not taking part in the industrial action."

He pointed out that the Service’s Fire Control, which deals with 999 calls in Shropshire, will be unaffected by strike action.

“Our administration staff will be working as normal, however some business and community fire prevention work is likely to be impacted.

“We are asking people to only call 999 if they really do need a fire engine. Our priority is to respond to calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued. If we respond to non-emergency calls then those most in need could be at risk.”

He asked that the public note that one of the unfortunate consequences of the forthcoming strikes is that the Service has had to cancel two open days planned at Shrewsbury and Telford Central fire stations over the next two Saturdays.

“We apologise for any inconvenience these cancellations have caused.  We will endeavour to identify alternative dates for these events into the future, however, with further periods of industrial action possible through the remainder of the summer months, this may prove difficult. We acknowledge that these open days are excellent opportunities for the public to visit, experience and get to know their Fire and Rescue Service but would ask that people bear with us during these difficult times.”

Mr Johnson thanked the public for their extra vigilance during periods of reduced fire cover due to strike action which resulted in only essential calls being received by the service, however he stated that it was noticeable during those periods that the number of calls increased to levels experienced outside of strike periods.

He said “We have been publicising ways the public can keep themselves safe and emphasising the importance of only calling the Fire Service when it is essential, however we have noticed call levels creeping up over the more recent periods of strike that we have experienced”. 

“Having already experienced 30 periods of strike, since September last year, members of the public may be coming less conscious of when they are taking place. We would of course continue to urge everyone to remain vigilant generally but especially when we are providing a reduced service.”

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has issued a ten point plan for safety around the house, at work, and on the road.

Make sure your smoke alarm works

All the family must know what to do to escape from a fire in their home.

Cooking causes most fires – take extra care in the kitchen and don’t leave pans unattended.

Avoid late night cooking sessions after drinking alcohol – eat out

Close internal doors to avoid fire spreading

Turn off electrics when not in use

Keep matches away from children

Ensure your car tyres are regularly checked

Don’t text or call while driving

If you run a business – ensure your alarm detection equipment is serviced and does not go off unnecessarily.

If you are having a bonfire or fireworks celebration stay safe and follow the firework code