Stand-ins on alert for fire service strike

Striking Wigan firefighters make their voices heard back in 2003
Striking Wigan firefighters make their voices heard back in 2003

CONTINGENCY plans for Wigan’s fire service are being finalised for the national strike that will take place on Wednesday.

A decade since picket lines were last seen outside stations in the borough, members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) are in dispute with the government over pensions.

Around 100 stand-in recruits are now on alert to provide emergency cover during the four hour strike from 12pm to 4pm.

Fire chiefs moved to reassure the public that enough auxiliary staff are available to keep 21 fire engines running across Greater Manchester.

It is believed that crews will be operating from Wigan and Leigh stations in the borough.

County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: “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.

“Local people need to start thinking about their own safety - make sure they have a working smoke alarm, know the main causes of fire and have a fire escape plan.”

Almost 80 per cent of the FBU membership nationwide voted in favour of the industrial action.

Under government proposals, firefighters can access their pensions once they reach the age of 60 but the FBU argues this will put lives at risk as many over 50-year-old officers may not meet health and safety standards and face leaving without a pension.

In the event of major incidents or emergencies occurring during the strike hours, the FBU stated that firefighters and operation managers will be allowed to assist should they volunteer to.

Mr McGuirk added: “For more information please check and follow our social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter.”