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Fire service to be at ‘half-capacity’ due to strike
The fire service will be at half its capacity this Friday – one of the busiest nights of the year – as firefighters stage the first of two strikes within four days.
And the public have been asked to play their part in helping prevent bonfire celebrations getting out of hand, which could divert the already stretched service from more important jobs.
The Fire Brigades Union will strike on Friday between 6.30pm and 11pm – when many people are expected to be enjoying bonfires to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. A second strike takes place on Monday between 6am and 8am.
During the strike, the fire service will only be operating at between 50 and 60 per cent of its capacity, with trained volunteers filling out the ranks alongside firefighters not on strike.
In the case of any major incidents, West Yorkshire fire service have the option of calling in the Army.
With the strike falling close to Halloween and bonfire night, people have been asked to show extra caution.
The actions follow a strike in September, and involve a dispute over pension changes being introduced by the Government. Volunteer firefighters were also used in the previous strike.
On both days the number of appliances available in the district will drop from 50 to between 20 and 30. Steve Beckley, deputy chief fire officer for West Yorkshire Fire Service, said the Army would only be called in a major emergency, and most incidents would be handled by local engines and support from neighbouring services.
He said: “We have tested contingency plans in place – the military support is on a national level and is only for very large incidents.
“Services will still be effective, although reduced.
“The last time there was a strike, things went to plan and luckily there were only a few incidents.
“The public responded magnificently. The difference this time is this period is always busy for us.
“The key message to the public is to be safe, because over this period the fire service will be reduced.
“There are a lot of organised events and we have worked very well with partners over the last few years where we have seen a fall in serious incidents.
“Simple things can help, like moving wheelie-bins out of sight and not to leave rubbish lying around near your house – a wheelie-bin full of rubbish can burn very fast.
“A lot of the calls we deal with this time of year are low risk.
“Dealing with a small bonfire that someone has left unattended.
“If we have to deal with something like that then we won’t be able to deal with something more serious like a house fire.
“If you are going to have your own bonfire then stay with it, keep it small and stay with it until it is fully extinguished.”
Safety tips are available on westyorksfire.gov.uk.
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