Fire crews to strike

Fire fighters Strike protest at Wigan Fire Station last month
Fire fighters Strike protest at Wigan Fire Station last month
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BACK-UP fire crews will be in operation in Wigan tomorrow evening as members of a leading union stage a second period of industrial action.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) are encouraging the public to take extra care in a bid to reduce incidents.

The five-hour strike will take place from 6.30pm, during which 28 appliances are expected to be in operation across the region.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is in dispute with the Government over pensions.

One incident in Wigan required a call-out from an auxiliary crew during the first strike, which took place over four hours on September 25.

County fire officer Steve McGuirk said: “Local people need to start thinking about their own safety - make sure they have a working smoke alarm, know the main causes of fire, have a fire escape plan and carry out a bedtime routine.

“We have recruited and trained an emergency fire crew to provide fire cover. This will be much reduced from our usual service with fewer engines attending a limited range of incidents and we will be prioritising calls.”

Fire chiefs have warned that the Saturday evening action is at a busier time than the initial strike which took place on a Wednesday.

The union opposes plans to make firefighters work up to 60 which it says will put members who do not meet fitness requirements in the late stages of their career at risk of not gaining a full pension.

But the Government has countered that fire service pensions are “among the most generous in the public sector.”

At a public demonstration in London this week, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “The Government is putting us all at risk, first by slashing the fire service, and second by forcing firefighters to work beyond the age at which they can physically do the job.”

In an open letter to the FBU last week, fire minister Brandon Lewis MP said: “This action not only damages the reputation of the fire and rescue service and the FBU, but creates considerable confusion for your members regarding the objectives of your strike.”

More than 30,000 union members were involved in last month’s action, no major incidents were recorded across the country.

It is understood that striking union members are free to return to work if a major incident occurs during the strike action period.

GMFRS had been recruiting dozens back-up staff in recent months in preparation for any industrial action.