Fire chiefs are calling on Londoners to take extra care with their barbecues this bank holiday weekend with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) set to strike over a dispute with the Government over pensions.
The Met office has forecast typical British bank holiday weather but the London Fire Brigade fears the extended weekend might lead to hardcore Londoners dusting off their barbecues for the first time this year and says they could be at risk if they don’t use common sense.
London Fire Brigade has issued its top barbecue safety tips, which are:
• Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby for emergencies
• Barbecues must be placed on level ground so they don’t tip over
• Only use approved barbecue fuel or fire lighters. Never use petrol or paraffin.
• When you have finished cooking, make sure the barbecue is cool before you try to move it.
• Empty the spent ash on to bare garden soil - never put it in the dustbin.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
“Barbecues are fine as long as you take a few sensible steps, such as lighting them well away from anything that could catch fire and never leaving them unattended. It’s important to take care with gas barbecues too as gas can explode when exposed to heat.
“During the FBU’s strikes we will have a contingency fire and rescue service of 27 fire engines, crewed by temporary firefighters. We will still attend emergencies but the contingency service is not intended to match the Brigade’s normal day to day cover so it is important that people take extra care with their barbecues, have working smoke alarms in their home and take fire safety seriously.”
FBU members will be taking industrial action on:
• Friday, 2 May starting at 1200, ending at 1700
• Saturday, 3 May starting at 1400, ending at 0200 on Sunday, 4 May
• Sunday, 4 May starting at 1000, ending at 1500
These will be the 10th, 11th, and 12th FBU strikes since September last year.
The Brigade has plans in place to provide a contingency level of emergency cover across the capital during the strike, and a fire engine will be sent to emergencies including fires in people’s homes, vehicle fires, road accidents and collapsed buildings.
These plans were never intended to match the Brigade’s day-to-day cover so while strike action is taking place a fire engine may not be sent to less urgent and non-life-threatening incidents. These could include rubbish fires (including fires in bins and skips), fires on open ground, animal rescues, flooding, people stuck in lifts and gas leaks.
Notes to editors
Ahead of the three periods of strike action, London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, wants all Londoners to follow a five point strike fire safety plan:
1. Check your smoke alarm to make sure it works.
2. Plan your escape route.
3. Take extra care when you are cooking or smoking.
4. Share fire safety tips – talk to friends and family (visit www.london-fire.gov.uk for advice).
5. Only dial 999 in a genuine emergency, for example a fire not a pet rescue.
27 fire engines
All of the 27 fire engines came from two appliance stations, meaning that in the lead up to the strike, all of London’s fire stations are available to provide a response to emergency incidents. Despite the temporary change to the number of fire engines in operation, the Brigade continues to seek to maintain its London-wide target attendance time of getting the first fire engine to the scene of an emergency within an average time of six minutes.
What service will be provided during strike action?
During the strike the 27 engines will be deployed at strategic locations across London and will be used to provide fire cover for the capital. The contingency fire service is provided by a contractor and is not intended to replicate the Brigade’s normal operational cover arrangements. The contractor will provide basic firefighting and some rescue work. The normal initial attendance to incidents will be one fire engine.
During the strike firefighters will attend:
Serious fires – like those in Londoners’ homes – confirmed by a 999 call
Fires that involve gas cylinders or hazardous substances.
Vehicle fires or boat fires
Fires at railway stations and rail and road tunnels or fires involving people in underground tunnels
Aircraft or train crashes
Road traffic collisions
During the strike firefighters may not be able to attend:
Grass fires and other outdoor fires such as trees, hedges or undergrowth alight.
Rubbish fires (including fires in bins and skips) and fires on open ground.
Animal rescues (these will be referred to the RSPCA).
People shut in lifts (owners of buildings are responsible for ensuring arrangements are in place to release people from faulty lifts).
Flooding Automatic fire alarms – a fire engine will only be sent when the fire has been confirmed by a 999 call.