November 1, 2014
Residents reassured as four-day fire strike continues in Burnham

Residents in Burnham-On-Sea have been reassured that safety won't be put at risk as firefighters in the town join a nationwide four-day strike, which started on Friday and runs until November 4th in a row over pensions.

The Fire Brigades Union says its members across England have walked out, from 6pm on 31st October, until 4th November at 6pm.

But Devon Somerset Fire & Rescue Service says it has "substantial contingency plans" in place to ensure that it continues to respond to emergency incidents throughout the strike action - including during Monday's Burnham Carnival.

Chief Fire Officer for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, Lee Howell, said: "Fire and Rescue Services have contingency plans and ours will again be put into place ahead of this date of industrial action."

"Our plans have worked well during the previous periods of action, but we are asking the public to help us again by taking extra care. We will continue to respond to 999 calls and do everything we can to keep the public safe."

Phil Martin, Head of Community Fire Safety for the Service, added: "You can help us again by taking extra care, especially over the weekend as many people will be enjoying Bonfire celebrations. While most people enjoy fireworks responsibly, in the wrong hands they can cause real misery. Remember that fireworks are explosives, and as such should be treated with respect and only used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the Firework Code."

"Take time to also think about fire safety in your home during this period - checking smoke alarms, ensuring you know what you would do if there was a fire and not making unnecessary calls to the fire and rescue service."

Union officials say that under the government's proposals, firefighters will have to work until they are 60 instead of 55, pay more into their pensions and get less in retirement.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters are incandescent following two months of negotiations which have led to no new proposals. "Firefighters will not stand by and see our members' pension rights destroyed by a government which does not give a damn about the safety or wellbeing of firefighters or the long term."

"The public do not want 60-year-olds tackling fires. Everyone understands the stupidity of these plans - except government ministers. We remain committed to resolving this dispute in the interests of our members and the public at large."

Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt said the strike action was "completely unnecessary" and damaged the fire and rescue service's "good reputation".

The industrial action over the past 18 months has seen fire authorities spend millions hiring contractors to cover for striking FBU members.

There have been 46 separate periods of strike action in that time. The FBU said it expects about 36,000 firefighters to take part in the latest walkout.


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