Firefighters set to strike tonight

By Connie Osborne Tuesday 31 December 2013 Updated: 31/12 10:20

RESIDENTS are reminded to be extra cautious as firefighters are set to strike tonight (Tuesday).

Hundreds of firefighters from Hereford and Worcester and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service are expected to walk out from 6.30pm today until 12.30pm tomorrow (Wednesday).

A further two hour strike could also go ahead between 6.30am and 8.30am on Friday (January 3).

The industrial action comes after a previous seven strikes over the past few months following a row between the Fire Brigades Union and Government over pensions.

All members of the union in England and Wales will stop work apart from those in control centres.

Matt Wrack, general secretary for the FBU, said: "None of us wanted these strikes, but firefighters on duty over the festive period don’t have much to celebrate this year as they are being priced out of their pensions and face the sack because the government’s can’t accept that 60 year old men and women can’t meet the same fitness standards as 20 year olds.

"We need to see genuine dialogue and real negotiations to resolve this dispute, so perhaps the prime minister would like to come along to visit firefighters on New Year’s Eve and hear directly why they are so angry?"

A spokeswoman for HWFRS said it had a statutory duty to plan for industrial action in order to maintain the service and a robust business continuity plan had been put in place to deal with it.

Although 'appropriate fire cover' will be provided across the counties, a reduced number of firefighters means there is likely to be a basic service and calls will be prioritised on their urgency.

Jon Pryce, area commander and head of operations for HWFRS, said they would be responding to 999 calls but residents needed to take extra steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

"We realise that people may be concerned about strike action being called over the Christmas and New Year period and whilst we wouldn’t want to deter festive celebrations we would ask people to take some simple steps to keep themselves and their families safe."

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