Two new strike dates have been announced as members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which includes some firefighters from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, have voted in favour of industrial action.
The Service is reassuring members of the public that contingency plans are in place and that the 999 service will continue to operate during the industrial action which takes place between 1800hrs and 2200hrs on both Friday 13 December and Saturday 14 December.
Members of the FBU are striking over changes to the national pension scheme.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has taken action to ensure the continuing provision of a reduced service during the strike. This means 999 calls will be prioritised and responses will be dealt with by whatever resource is available.
Nigel Williams, Chief Fire Officer at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I would like to reassure people in Norfolk that we have been working very hard to make sure we are as prepared as possible to deal with as many incidents as we can.
“We will however need to carefully consider each call as it comes in before despatching whatever resource is appropriate. While the service is clearly going to be reduced in effectiveness, our job is to do the very best we can to protect the people of Norfolk and this is what we will do.”
There will be a reduced level of cover during the two strike periods in urban parts of the county where FBU membership is strongest as well as some in rural areas. It is anticipated that just over half of fire stations will remain open during the walk outs.
Dan Roper, Cabinet Member for Public Protection at Norfolk County Council, said: “I would urge people to be particularly safety conscious during the industrial action taking place this weekend. Our Fire and Rescue Service will not be at full strength once again, so being fully aware of our safety messages is important.
“However, a number of stations across the county are staffed by trained firefighters who are not taking part in the strike action so will continue to operate as normal and we will do the very best we can to protect the Norfolk’s residents.”
During the strike action residents in Norfolk are being urged to take the following additional steps to reduce the threat of fire:
• Fit a smoke alarm and check it regularly.
• Make a fire action plan so that everyone in your house knows how to escape in the event of fire.
• Take care when cooking with hot oil and think about using thermostatically controlled deep fat fryers.
• Never leave lit candles unattended.
• Ensure cigarettes are stubbed out and disposed of carefully.
• Never smoke in bed.
• Keep matches and lighters away from children.
• Keep clothing away from heating appliances.
• Take care in the kitchen. Accidents whilst cooking account for 59% of fires in the home.
• Take special care when you are tired or when you have been drinking.
Businesses in Norfolk are also advised to be vigilant during the industrial action and consider the following key messages:
• Review your fire risk assessment and make sure it is current.
• Ask staff to be vigilant to the risk of fire and report any concerns.
• Check your fire detection system is working effectively and ensure everyone in the building understands what they need to do should it activate.
• Make sure fire fighting equipment works and everyone expected to use it knows how to do so safely.
• Make sure fire evacuation plans are in place and employees know what to do.
• Keep escape routes free from obstacles.
• Keep fire doors shut.
• Reduce fire hazards - keep sources of ignition away from flammable materials or substances.
• Avoid arson risks, such as rubbish left around.
• Delay activities if they have an increased risk of fire associated with them (e.g. hot cutting or hot works).
More safety advice and information about Friday and Saturday’s strike action is available from the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service website at www.norfolkfireservice.gov.uk