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Fire service to strike over popular bonfire period
The fire service will be at half its capacity tomorrow – 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 Night. 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 has the option of calling in the Army.
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.”
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