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As well as Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor, this Saturday night, 19 October, will also see the second national firefighter strike over a dispute with Government over pensions.
With an estimated 20 million people expected to sit down to watch entertainment shows on Saturday night, the London Fire Brigade is asking people to take steps to prevent fires in their homes ahead of the strike. The strike, which will take place between 6.30pm and 11.30pm, will see the number of fire engines in London reduced from 169 to just 27.
During the strike the Brigade will turn to Twitter, offering people potentially life-saving fire safety tips via its account @Londonfire. It will ask people to test their smoke alarms before settling down in front of the TV, using #beepbeep so fire chiefs know they’ve tested their alarms. Updates on incidents taking place during the strike will also be tweeted about.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:
“Many more fires could be prevented if people took extra care so we’re asking the public to take simple steps to protect themselves and their homes from fire during the strike this Saturday.
“We’ve issued three top Saturday night strike safety tips, which, if followed, will keep people safe and prevent fires. We will be using Twitter to remind people to take care and are asking them to use #beepbeep so we know they’ve tested their smoke alarms.
“Millions of people will sit down to watch TV so before they do so, we’d like them to take a few seconds to test their smoke alarms. Getting a takeaway is also a good idea to prevent kitchen fires.”
The Brigade’s top Saturday night strike safety tips are:
1. Beep beep: show your smoke alarm some love before settling down to watch Saturday night TV
2. Get dinner delivered! Grabbing a takeaway will help to prevent kitchen fires
3. Cig safety: make sure your cigarettes are out (right out!) once you’ve finished smoking
The Brigade has plans in place to provide a contingency level of emergency cover across the capital during the strike, and fire engines will be sent to emergencies including fires in people’s homes, vehicle fires, road accidents and collapsed buildings. However less urgent incidents, including smaller fires, may not be attended.
Notes to Editors
Take Extra Care
The Brigade’s ‘Take Extra Care’ campaign which aims to encourage people to take steps to prevent fires in the home during the strike. Leaflets containing fire safety information have been sent out to key stakeholders including hospitals, local authorities, transport operators and charity groups.
Since the FBU announced its intention to ballot for strike action on 16 July, the Brigade has been putting its contingency arrangements in place working with businesses, charities and local authorities to explain the plans and distribute thousands of ‘Take Extra Care’ leaflets explaining how Londoners can prevent fires.
Contingency fire cover during the strike
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 are not 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.
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).
Automatic fire alarms – a fire engine will only be sent when the fire has been confirmed by a 999 call.
The strike ballot
The FBU balloted its members to take national strike action over the government’s reforms to the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme . The ballot opened on 18 July and closed on 29 August. 78 per cent of Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) members who took part in the ballot voted in favour of strike action.
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.