With firefighters in Northamptonshire preparing to strike over a pensions row on Wednesday, September 25, brigade chiefs are urging people to take extra care.
The Fire Brigades Union said the first strike will take place between midday and 4pm after almost 80 per cent of members voted in favour of industrial action.
During this time, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service will not be attending any automatic fire alarms sounding in any non-domestic or commercial premises.
While industrial action is taking place, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service will only attend confirmed property fires and other incidents where lives are at risk such as road traffic collisions.
This is to ensure that resources remain available to those in the community who are in need of emergency response.
Contingency planning has been under way for several months, both in the service and with partners, to ensure that the service can continue to be able to respond to emergencies.
Anyone who discovers a fire in their premises should continue to dial 999 and the fire and rescue service will attend as soon as possible.
Northamptonshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Martyn Emberson said: “This is a national dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the government.
“Although our hope is that a resolution can be reached as quickly as possible, we respect the right of staff to take part in this industrial action and have therefore been working on our contingency plans.
“This includes working in partnership with our neighbouring authorities to ensure we have the right resources in place to be able to continue to provide an emergency response in the event of strike action.
“This is a testing time for fire and rescue services across the country, but we are taking every precaution to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum. And as usual, we would remind the public to only call 999 in an emergency.
“Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service remains committed to saving life, protecting property and the environment in order to reduce risk within the county’s communities.”
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. Governments in Westminster and Cardiff have simply refused to see sense on these issues.
“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s: the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.
“None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”
There is guidance available to help mitigate the chances of a fire starting and reduce the risk to employees and damage to property – visit:
http://www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/councilservices/fire/fireandrescue/bfs/pages/default.aspx If anyone has further questions about their premises, they can contact a fire protection officer by calling 01604 797000.