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90% of Bradford fire crews expected to strike
As many as nine in ten firefighters are expected to join a national strike tomorrow in a row over pensions.
The move will leave “keen amateurs” manning fire engines, according to a union official.
The Fire Brigades Union is expecting all its members in West Yorkshire, which they say make up 90 per cent of the workforce, to leave their posts at noon and not return to duty until 4pm.
In the event of a major fire or accident, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service could request support from the Army.
The service will be running 20 engines during the strike, according to union brigade secretary Dave Williams.
Half of these will be crewed by firefighters who are not union members and half by the service’s new “community response operators”, he said.
Earlier this month, the service revealed more than 300 members of the public had applied for one of the strike-breaking roles.
But Mr Williams called them “keen amateurs”.
He said: “Community response operators have been given three weeks’ training and have been left to get on with it.”
Striking firefighters are expected to man picket lines outside each of Bradford’s fire stations.
Mr Williams said: “Some are deciding to bring barbecues and have a bit of a lunch and take advantage of the last bit of sun they might have.
“We are keeping it really low-key and have allowed branches to decide what they want to do.
“We are expecting all our members to take industrial action. I’ve not heard anything that leads me to believe otherwise.”
The Government wants firefighters to work until the age of 60 and members of the union last month voted in favour of industrial action over the matter.
Mr Williams said the decision to strike had not been taken lightly.
He said: “No firefighter wants to take industrial action, I can say that.”
Dave Walton, West Yorkshire Fire Assistant Chief Officer, said: “We have an established contingency plan developed as part of our standard business continuity arrangements.
“This plan has recently been exercised and tested using a variety of scenarios and we are confident in our ability to provide fire cover, albeit on a restricted basis, to the communities and businesses of West Yorkshire.”
Last week, Chief Fire Officer Simon Pilling said he was asking everyone, including members of the general public and businesses, to play their part in preventing fires and other emergency incidents from taking place.
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