SERVICE chiefs are drawing up plans to ensure Dorset is covered during fresh firefighters’ strikes on three days next week.

Residents are being urged to stay safe and the message to dial 999 only in an emergency is being reiterated as resources will be stretched.

The action will cover certain times over the bank holiday weekend. It starts on the afternoon of Friday, May 2 – the day the Earl and Countess of Wessex visit Weymouth Fire Station and community safety centre to see the work of the SafeWise charity and a demonstration by firefighters.

A brigade spokesman said the strike would not affect the royal visit although the couple might not get to see the scheduled demonstration by the technical rescue crew.

The strike is part of a long-running dispute between The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the government over pensions, and union claims that the coalition is “burying its head in the sand” over the issue.

Strikes were held last year to protest against plans for a later retirement age, as well as changes to pensions.

Talks have yet to resolve the dispute and further action is proposed for noon to 5pm on Friday May 2, 2pm to 2am on Saturday, May 3 and 10am to 3pm on Sunday, May 4.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service said it would be providing a reduced emergency response over the period.

Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said: “As with the previous strikes we will once again be putting our contingency arrangements in place.

“We are disappointed the FBU and the government have not been able to come to an agreement about the firefighters pension scheme at this stage.

“It is important to stress that this is a national dispute.

“We have put plans in place to ensure Dorset Fire and Rescue is able to respond to incidents, but we would ask members of the public to take extra steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out in their home.

“We will continue to work with all our partners locally to ensure businesses; homes and our environment can be kept as safe as possible from fire during this period of industrial action.”

The brigade says it will be issuing fire safety advice in the run up to this latest round of strike action.

For fire safety advice call 01305 252600 or see