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Fire chiefs say the region is ready for strike
FIRE chiefs in the region say emergency cover is in place ahead of a strike by firefighters due to take place next week.
The Fire Brigades Union has confirmed that members will walk out on Wednesday, September 25 from noon until 4pm in a row over pensions.
Cleveland Fire Brigade said it had “robust arrangements in place” to provide emergency cover, including professional crews supported by recently trained auxiliary firefighters.
Officials said the auxiliary staff had the same level of skills as the military personnel who provided cover during the last national fire strike more than a decade ago.
Ian Hayton, Cleveland chief fire office, said community safety was the top priority, adding: “I can reassure the public we will provide a professional emergency response throughout any period of disruption.”
Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service plans to use senior fire service officers, who have kept up their training, to staff fire appliances during the strike.
The officers will work alongside non-FBU members.
County Durham and Darlington deputy chief fire officer, Stuart Errington, said: “The plans we have in place will ensure that, should this strike go ahead, people in County Durham and Darlington can still receive a professional response in the event of a fire or other emergency.
“We hope that, even at this late stage, strike action can be avoided and we would ask both the Government and the FBU to continue meaningful negotiation to try and resolve their differences.”
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority said it was “greatly concerned” about the impact on community safety in the county.
However, officials said the county, which has a large number of retained firefighters who are not members of the FBU, would not be as badly affected as other areas.
Many fire stations would be open as usual, with plans drawn up to place engines near to locations where crews would be striking.
North Yorkshire chief fire officer Nigel Hutchinson said: “I want to reassure the public that emergency 999 calls will still be answered during this time and contingency plans have been put in place to ensure we can still respond to emergency incidents.
“However, it would greatly help us if members of the public took extra steps during this time to reduce the risk of fires breaking out in their home.”
Almost 80 per cent of members voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot that ended earlier this month.
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