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Firefighters' strike could see Army covering fire call-outs
The Army might have to be drafted in for emergencies if a planned firefighters’ strike goes ahead later this month.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union last month voted in favour of industrial action over changes to pensions and, although no date has been set for any strike, it would have to be within 28 days of the August 29 ballot.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority has now decided to write to the Government to request “military support” to deal with any major incidents and fires that occur during the strike, which was backed by 78 per cent of FBU members.
The Army back-up would be in addition to 300 people who have come forward to provide cover should the strikes go ahead.
The cost of equipping and training these volunteers has been estimated at £60,000.
Their wages, £10 an hour during training and £150 per 12-hour shift, will be paid with the money saved from not paying striking workers.
The service has revealed that 257 people had applied to be community response operators, who would carry out the general firefighting tasks. And 63 hopefuls had sought to become drivers and pump operators.
The authority met last week to iron out “contingency planning arrangements” in response to the planned strike.
At the meeting, members admitted: “The service to be provided under the contingency arrangements would not be as effective as the normal service and industrial action on a major scale would inevitably have an impact on public safety.
“In addition to the contingency planning that had been undertaken it is recognised that, in the event of the authority being unable to implement a plan which delivered the lowest level of appropriate service in extreme and unavoidable circumstances, it may be necessary to seek additional assistance in the form of military support provided by Government.”
Dave Williams, the FBU’s West Yorkshire brigade secretary, said: “The result of the ballot, 18,277 in favour and just 5,166 against industrial action, shows the strength of feeling over this.”
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