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Friday, December 13, 2013

Take extra care during firefighters' strike

The Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public across the region to take extra care at home and on the roads following the Fire Brigades Union’s announcement that firefighters in England and Wales will take further industrial action on Friday 13th December between 6.00pm and 10.00pm and Saturday 14th December between 6pm and 10pm.

Chief Fire Officer, Simon Smith, stressed: “Attention to fire safety in the home and road safety is of paramount importance, but even more so during these times.

“The Fire Brigades Union has chosen to strike at times of the day when the risk to people’s safety is inherently more significant - on a Friday and Saturday evening, people are likely to be out socialising and drinking or cooking at home entertaining family and friends.

“Of particular concern to us at this time of year of course is the likelihood that people will be out celebrating in the run up to Christmas which again increases the risk to safety.”

“I am therefore urging people to be extra vigilant think more carefully about the situations they may be putting themselves into. Historically these are times when calls to the fire and rescue service are at their peak and regrettably it is likely that during the strike period we won’t be able to respond as we normally would – prevention is best, so take these simple steps to ensure your safety and those of your loved ones;

  • Ensure you have a smoke alarm and test that it is in working order
  • Do not mix drinking and cooking – it’s a recipe for disaster. If you are hungry get a takeaway or make a sandwich. Do not get the chip pan out or leave cooking unattended
  • Avoid any unnecessary journeys and pay particular attention to road safety  – if you are unfortunate enough to be in a collision we may not be able to get there to help you as quickly as we normally would
  • Switch off any unused electrical appliances before you go to bed and close all doors – make sure you have an escape plan in the event of fire
  • Ensure you extinguish smoking materials and take care with candles
  • Get your chimney cleaned and use a fire guard on open fires
  • If a fire does start - get out, stay out and call 999. Don’t be tempted to tackle a fire yourself

Safety advice and guidance for the public and businesses is available on the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service website www.nwales-fireservice.org.uk and social network sites on Facebook www.facebook.com/Northwalesfireservice  and Twitter @NorthWalesFire  (#takeextracare), as well as through the local news.

Everyone likes to enjoy themselves in the run up to the festive period but members of the public are urged to keep safety in mind while celebrating by following follow the simple Christmas safety  tips which are also available on the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service website and social networking sites.

The number of firefighters from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service expected to make a protest by striking is high and will result in a reduction in the resources available. As a consequence, the fire and rescue service will not be able to provide the same high level of response as it normally would – it will continue to respond to emergency calls by prioritising the deployment of the available resources at its disposal and focussing on the protection of life

Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith reassured the public “North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has arrangements in place to continue to provide a service during strike action” but warned that, “because of the circumstances, services may be limited.”

“The Service’s business continuity arrangements will ensure a speedy and safe return to normal services on conclusion of any period of industrial action.”

Councillor Meirick Lloyd Davies, Chairman of North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “Whilst we understand the concerns of staff which have led to their decision to make a protest in this way, we have a duty and an obligation to ensure that the provision of services remains as unaffected as reasonably practicable. This is a dispute between the Fire Brigade’s Union and the Government in England and Wales over proposed changes to pension arrangements. However our number one priority is to ensure public safety.”

Members of the public who may need to call the fire and rescue service regarding a non-urgent matter during a period of industrial action are requested to consider waiting until strike action ends to make that call.

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