Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Avon Fire and Rescue Service prepare reduced services as firefighters threaten to strike
FIRE services for Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire are attempting to assure people that they can still provide adequate cover as the threat of firefighters striking looms.
The Fire Brigades Union, which represents firefighters across the country, balloted its members on Thursday (August 29), who voted for industrial action amid ongoing disagreements with the Government on pension arrangements.
In response to fears that people may be more at risk during potential striking days, Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) is urging people living and working in South Gloucestershire to reduce the risk of fire in their properties.
If firefighters do strike, AFRS will be providing a reduced emergency response service, prioritising calls to where there is a risk to life.
Contingency planning has been taking place for a number of weeks to ensure AFRS can provide skeleton fire cover, details of which will be released once the dates and duration of the industrial action are announced.
Chief fire officer Kevin Pearson said the reality was that they would not be in a position to provide the emergency response usually provided.
"There is a very real threat of industrial action so I would ask local people to take steps to ensure their homes and businesses are as safe as possible," he said.
"Although accidents do happen you can reduce the risk and the impact of a fire in the home by taking extra care not to leave cooking unattended, making sure you check smoke alarms are working and rehearsing escape routes with the whole family."
Around 130 full-time staff and a smaller number of retained firefighters in the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service are members of the union and could also potentially strike.
Chief fire officer Jon Hall said the service had substantial contingency plans in place but was hopeful they would not be needed.
"We want to reassure people that we will endeavour to ensure people get the fire and rescue service they deserve," he said.
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said it was a national strike that they could do nothing about.
"However we can make sure that the county is fully prepared and that’s why very thorough plans are in place for the period being discussed," he said.
At this stage the FBU has made no announcement of the date or duration of any industrial action.
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