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Friday, June 6, 2014

More firefighters' strikes planned

The Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is renewing a plea for 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 next week Thursday 12th June from 9am for 24 hours and again later this month on Saturday 21st June from 10am until 5pm.

Chief Fire Officer, Simon Smith, stressed: “This time we will see the first 24 hour strike by the Fire Brigades Union which will increase the level of risk to the public and therefore I am asking people to extra vigilant about their safety.

“I would like to thank the public for their cooperation in heeding our messages during previous strikes which clearly made a difference to the demand on our services and I would ask for the same level of cooperation once again.

“The first strike also coincides with the start of the UEFA World Cup so it will be at a time when the risk to people’s safety will also be more significant as they are likely to be out socialising or at home entertaining family and friends – which means attention to fire safety in and around the home, as well as road safety, is of even more importance.

“The call for people to be extra vigilant and to think more carefully about the situations they may be putting themselves into is therefore a very serious one. Regrettably it is likely that during the strike period we won’t be able to respond as we normally would – prevention is best, so we are asking everyone to take these simple steps to ensure their safety and those of loved ones;

  • Ensure you have a smoke alarm and test that it is in working order – fit one in your caravan before caravanning.
  • Do not mix drinking and cooking – it can be a recipe for disaster. Lots of us enjoy a drink when watching our favourite sporting match but be responsible and do not leave cooking unattended. If you are hungry after a night out, get a takeaway or make a sandwich - do not get the chip pan out or leave cooking unattended.
  • Don’t drink and drive – walk, get a lift, taxi or if in a group organise a driver and take turns to drive. 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
  • Don’t drink and BBQ – the chef should always wait until the cooking has finished before enjoying a drink, and never use any flammable liquids to start or revive a barbecue that is going out. Do not leave a barbeque unattended and always allow embers to cool before disposal.
  • Switch off any unused electrical appliances before you go to bed, including your TV, and close all doors – make sure you have an escape plan in the event of fire
  • Ensure you extinguish smoking materials and take extra care with naked flames.
  • Grass fires can spread quickly during dry weather, putting lives and property at serious risk so avoid using naked flames when out and about and dispose of smoking materials with care.
  • Remember setting fires deliberately is a crime for which you can be prosecuted – if you have any information about a deliberate fire please call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
  • If a fire does start - get out, stay out and call 999. Don’t be tempted to tackle a fire yourself.”

Safety advice on all the above and additional guidance for the public and businesses is available on the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service website and social network sites on Facebook  and Twitter @NorthWalesFire  (#takeextracare), as well as through the local news.

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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