The Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) has announced details of its latest planned industrial action in relation to its national dispute over pensions with central government.
Members of the FBU plan to hold two further strikes from 6pm to 10pm on Friday 13 December and Saturday 14 December 2013.
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is disappointed that negotiations to date have not resolved the on-going industrial dispute between the FBU and the Government, over reform of firefighter pension schemes.
These periods of industrial action, should they go ahead, will be the fifth and sixth strikes in this national dispute. The first strike took place for four hours from 12 noon on Wednesday 25 September. A second strike took place on Friday 1 November from 6.30pm to 11pm, a third ran on Monday from 6am to 8am and the last strike took place from 10am to 2pm on Wednesday 13 November.
A strike planned for 19 October from 6.30pm to 11.30pm was called off the day before it was scheduled following progress in talks between the FBU and Government.
The Government’s decision to withdraw military support during periods of industrial action means that for the past five years fire authorities across the country have had to plan and prepare to be self-reliant.
Fire authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide business continuity plans in the event of industrial action by their staff. To fulfil this responsibility Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service has robust plans in place to provide a fire and rescue emergency response from strategic locations across County Durham and Darlington Borough.
The service will use trained fire officers to both drive and staff fire appliances along with other emergency response vehicles during any period of national strike action.
These staff are professional firefighters with years of experience responding to fires and other emergencies. The officers will work alongside non FBU firefighters who will be working as normal and staff who choose not to participate in any strike action.
Although there will be fewer fire appliances available during the strike action, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service is confident that the level of emergency response that can be provided will be adequate.
The plan is not designed to replicate the excellent service that firefighters provide every day of the week. However, it does aim to provide a professional emergency response during periods of industrial action.
In the lead up to the strikes the service will continue to raise awareness of fire and other risks within the local community and with businesses across County Durham and Darlington.
The service’s website at www.ddfire.gov.uk will carry information about the strike action as well as practical information for the public, businesses and organisations about how to stay safe. Updates are also available via www.twitter.com/CDDFRS and www.facebook.com/CoDurhamAndDarlingtonFireAndRescueService
Deputy chief fire officer, Stuart Errington, said: “We are disappointed that the FBU and government have failed to reach a settlement. So far, our resilience plans have worked well and we will continue to provide a professional response in the event of a fire or other emergency during strike action on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 December.
“We would advise people to take extra care and follow some simple steps to reduce the risk of fire. One of the most important actions that everyone can take is to make sure that there are working smoke alarms fitted on each level of your property. These alarms can mean the difference between life and death.
“At this time of year many people are putting up or switching on Christmas decorations, so we would advise extra care in the home. Please ensure that you are using British Standard Christmas lights and always unplug them before you go to bed or leave the house. Do not overload sockets and use a residual current device (RCD) on outdoor electrical equipment. Also never leave candles unattended and in the event of a fire or other emergency always call 999.
“We hope that 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.”