As part of the ongoing national dispute between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the Government over the proposed reform of firefighter pension schemes nationally, further strike dates have been announced by the FBU for;
Tuesday 24 December between 7pm and midnight
Tuesday 31 December 6.30pm to Wednesday 1 January 12.30am
Friday 3 January between 6.30am and 8.30am
A large percentage of our firefighters are retained (i.e. part-time or on-call), and many of them are not members of the FBU, because of this they were not included in the strike ballot and many will be working as normal. These staff are fully trained operational staff.
As a result of this there will be many fire stations in North Yorkshire, particularly in the more rural areas, that are unaffected by the strikes. In addition to these, we will be moving some fire engines so that they are closer to locations where crews will be striking to ensure there is fire cover in place across most of the area.
As it appears no early resolution to the dispute is currently in sight, we have also taken the measure of reinforcing our emergency cover by re-employing some operational firefighters, who have recently left the Service. They are in addition to our existing pool of staff who are working during the strikes.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Andy Trowsdale said; “The arrangements we have had in place for the earlier strikes have proved adequate, however, during these strikes the Service did not experience any large incidents or high levels of calls. As there appears no immediate resolution in sight we need to ensure that our contingency plans will be sustainable if the dispute goes on for a longer period of time and that is why we have taken the step of writing to former employees of the Service.
“We need the public to be aware that over strike periods there is a reduced level of emergency cover and it is especially important for people to take extra care to keep themselves and their family safe.
“Our most important tip is to make sure you have working smoke alarms fitted on every level of your home and test them on a regular basis. As these strikes fall in the festive period and we have already had fires caused by candles that have injured people, I urge people to take extra care with candles, whilst cooking and if using fireworks such as during New Year celebrations.
“Although we will seek to respond to all emergencies as quickly as possible this is not a normal level of service as we will be operating with less resources, and it is possible that it may take longer than usual for some fire engines to arrive if we are very busy.”
If a fire does break out in your home; Get out, dial 999 and ask for the fire service, and stay out until the fire service arrive. We also ask that during the strike periods, the public only call 999 if they have a real emergency.
For further advice download a copy of our ‘Take Extra Care- Safeguard you, your family and your home’ leaflet.
If you are a business owner we will aim to attend automatic fire alarms during the strike periods. However, our resources may be stretched and there may be a delay or we may send an officer rather than a fire engine.
If we are busy an automatic fire alarm on its own will be a low priority. If there is a 999 call from a premises where an alarm has activated confirming that there is a fire in the premises then we will prioritise these calls. Please do not call 999 just because your alarm has activated.
Our top tips to businesses are that they should make sure that:
· the fire risk assessment for the premises is up to date and has been acted on
· measures to reduce the risk of fire are in place and are working
· fire precautions in the building are working
· the emergency plan is up to date and appropriate to ensure evacuation in case of fire without the need for fire service assistance
· all staff know what to do in case of fire.