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Cover in place during fire service strike
FIRE chiefs are confident they can provide an emergency response during planned strike action on Wednesday.
Some officers will take part in the national four-hour strike between noon and 4pm in a row over pensions.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) officials warn the midweek industrial action could be the first in a series of walkouts with FBU chief Matt Wrack describing the initial strike as a “warning shot to Government”.
The union claims thousands of firefighters could be sacked without proper access to a proper pension because they are getting older.
A Government review found more than half of current firefighters aged 50 to 54 and two thirds of those over 55 can no longer meet the necessary fitness standards.
Ministers say they could be moved to other roles but the FBU says there are only a handful of opportunities, meaning mass sackings are inevitable.
Fire Minister Brandon Lewis called the decision to strike “entirely unnecessary and avoidable”.
Dorset’s Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said contingency plans were in place with non-FBU staff providing emergency response cover.
He said: “In some cases this will mean that local emergency response cover is unchanged and in other areas it may mean that we pool our available staff to crew fire engines at key stations.”
While the brigade will still be responding to 999 calls, residents are being urged to take extra steps to reduce risks.
Mr Gunter added “We are hopeful of reaching an agreement with the FBU locally for recalling staff to duty should there be a major incident.
“It is also important that we prioritise our attendances, particularly in relation to incidents where there is no immediate risk to life.
“To assist with this prioritisation we are strengthening our communication in relation to safety in the home and workplace. If people need us, they should continue to dial 999.”
Dorset Fire Authority member Mike Byatt said: “Strike action is regrettable but obviously the union feels it has no alternative because of a breakdown in negotiations.
“I understand why members of the union feel so strongly about it.
“The public should be reassured contingencies are in place.”
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