12:00 Sunday 22 December 2013

Firefighters to strike at Christmas and New Year

Written byJENNY MOODY

UTTOXETER residents are warned to take extra precautions over Christmas and New Year as firefighters prepare to take to the picket lines over pensions.

Although Uttoxeter Community Fire Station, based in Cheadle Road, mainly consists of retained firefighters who are not members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), they will be drafted in to help in other areas during the strike action.

They could be asked to help across the county as East Staffordshire crews from Burton, Barton under Needwood and Tutbury will lay down their hoses and head behind the picket lines on some of the busiest days of the year.

The strike action is set to take place in a bid to force a rethink over proposals which would see them work until they are 60 to get their full pension.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said the industrial action should not be necessary but crews needed join together to fight these new Government plans.

He said: “Firefighters provide a first-class standard of service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and these strikes will remind the Government just how reliant they are on our members’ professionalism, commitment and flexibility.

“However, there should be no need for industrial action, and it’s absurd that firefighters’ concerns over pensions have not been addressed already.

“By simply conceding common sense and allowing firefighters a fair deal, the Government could end this industrial action today.”

Fire chiefs have stressed that while they will still be proving an emergency response service during the industrial action, they will need members of the public to ‘endeavour to prevent further emergencies from occurring’ while firefighters are picketing.

This will include not leaving cooking unattended, watch out for electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings and Christmas decorations.

Also people organising parties are asked to stay vigilant and ensure everyone stays safe, particularly if they are setting off fireworks as part of the celebrations.

Residents are also asked to ensure their smoke alarms are working correctly.

Firefighters will strike from 5pm to midnight on Tuesday, December 24; 4.30pm on Tuesday, December 31 to 12.30am on Wednesday, January 1 and 4.30am to 8.30am on Friday, January 3.

During the strikes firefighters will still be dealing with 999 calls but this will be at a reduced level.

On top of these strike periods — the seventh, eighth and ninth to take place — on Christmas Eve all members working in control centres will refuse to work voluntary overtime.

And between 7pm on Friday, December 27 and 7pm on Sunday, December 29, firefighters across England, Scotland and Wales except those working in control will refuse to work voluntary overtime.

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