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'Take extra care' during firefighters strike


The Chief Fire Officer of North Wales Fire and Rescue Service is urging the public across the region to'take extra care'in terms of fire safety in the home and road safety during strike action planned by firefighters.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced yesterday (17th September) that firefighters in England and Wales intend to take industrial action on Wednesday 25th September between midday and 4.00pm.

The number of firefighters from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service who are expected to make a protest by striking is high. This will mean a reduction in the resources that the fire and rescue service has at its disposal and, as a consequence, the Service will not be able to provide the same high level of response to fires and other emergencies that it normally would. The priority will be to respond to life critical incidents.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Smith reassured the public "North Wales Fire and Rescue Service has arrangements in place to continue to provide a service during strike action" but warned that, "because of the circumstances, services may be limited."

"The Service's business continuity arrangements will ensure a speedy and safe return to normal services on conclusion of any period of industrial action."

Councillor Meirick Lloyd Davies, Chairman of North Wales Fire and Rescue Authority, said: "Whilst the Fire and Rescue Authority understands the concerns of staff which have led to their decision to make a protest in this way, the Authority has a duty and an obligation to ensure that the provision of services to the public remains as unaffected as reasonably practicable. This is a dispute between the FBU and the Government in England and Wales over proposed changes to pension arrangements. These changes are affecting many people in a wide range of organisations across the public sector. However the Authority's number one priority is to ensure public safety and a consistent public service."

The Chief Fire Officer, Simon Smith, went on to say: "Unlike the dispute in 2002/3 support from the military in the form of Green Goddesses is no longer available to North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and our ability to provide a service to the public will be challenging. However, we will continue to respond to emergency calls by prioritising the deployment of the available resources at our disposal and focussing on the protection of life."

In order to help people to prepare for taking extra care in terms of fire safety and to help reduce the risk to communities and businesses, safety advice and guidance will be provided via the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service website and social network sites on Facebook and Twitter(#takeextracare), as well as through the local news.

The Chief Fire Officer stressed the importance of the following advice in the event of a fire;

  • Prevention is best - pay extra attention to fire safety in the home
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm
  • If a fire does start - get out, stay out and call 999
  • Don't be tempted to tackle a fire yourself.

"Attention to fire safety in the home and road safety is of paramount importance, but even more so during these times," he continued. "I would urge people to take simple steps to ensure their own safety, such as ensuring they have a working smoke alarm.

"If any member of the public needs to call us regarding a non-urgent matter during a period of industrial action then it would be helpful if they considered waiting until strike action ends to make that call."


What you can do to keep safe from fire? Here are some useful fire safety tips;

Smoke Alarms - Install a smoke alarm on every floor of your home and test them regularly. Batteries should be checked once a week and changed at least once a year.

Cooking -Take special care when cooking. Never leave cooking unattended. Do not fill a chip pan more than one-third full. Never put food in a chip pan if the oil begins to smoke - turn off the heat and leave to cool. Never cook under the influence of alcohol.

Candles - Do not use candles too close to curtains. Never leave candles unattended. Always ensure that candles are extinguished properly.

Matches - Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children.

Smoking Materials - Always use a proper ashtray. Extinguish smoking materials properly. Never smoke in bed.

Escape Plan - Plan your escape route with everyone, always include children and the elderly. Close all doors at night and switch off at the plug any electrical appliances not in use.

Open Fires -Guard all open fires. Do not dry clothes too close to an open fire.

Electrical - Replace worn or damaged leads. Use correct fuses for household appliances.

Test electric blankets annually. Do not overload sockets.


Business fire safety during industrial action:

To ensure that your premises remain safe from fire during periods of industrial action:

Business owners should firstly undertake a review of their Fire Risk Assessment and if any changes are needed, implement those as a matter of importance.  Precautions should also be made to prevent the occurrence of a fire.  This might be as simple as walking around the building at the end of the working day to ensure that there are no combustible materials in the vicinity of the property.

Owners will also need to ensure that procedures for reducing the chances of a fire starting are well understood by all members of staff and that everybody remains alert to the dangers from fire. What each owner will need to do is dependant on their own Fire Risk Assessment.

During any period of industrial action, the responsibility for maintaining the fire precautions within the premises of the business remains with the 'Responsible Person' for the property and therefore, business owners are advised to ensure that everything is in place, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in order to ensure the safety of staff, visitors and the premises.

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