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Bonfire warning as firefighters set to strike
BONFIRES and firework displays will not be covered by a full fire service this Friday, after firefighters made the decision to go on strike for the second time in five weeks.
Residents holding domestic shows or those attending official events are likely to face a higher risk of trouble, whilst crews belonging to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) walk out from 6.30pm.
Industrial action is planned at stations in Swindon, Stratton and Westlea between 6.30pm and 11pm on Friday and another two hours between 6am and 8am on Monday, November 4.
The strike is thought to be another episode in the long-running saga between the government and the FBU over increased pension contributions and an extension of the retirement age, though South West FBU did not respond to calls yesterday.
Crews first walked out on September 25 for four hours and were due to do so again on October 19 before an 11th hour cancellation. Final meetings are being held by Wiltshire Fire & Rescue this morning to confirm what support is likely to be available to cover the walkout.
A spokesperson for the service said it was likely on-call firefighters from stations in Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade and Malmesbury would cover any call-outs, with one appliance operating from the town centre.
“We hope that most people would look to do things on Saturday night. We would always hope people take extra care even without the strike,” they said.
“We would be quite keen for people to think twice about holding bonfire and fireworks on Friday night.
“There will be the same level of cover as before [September 25], but we will not be able to respond quite as quickly as we might do otherwise.
“We don’t know why they have called this third strike, having cancelled the last one. We assumed progress was being made.”
The strike falls at the start of one of the busiest weekends of the year for the fire service, as people begin the countdown to the Bonfire Night celebrations of November 5.
The most significant firework display in the region on the night of the strike will be held at Highworth Rec from 6.30pm.
There will not be a bonfire at the event, but the slower response times and fewer crews on the road may cause concern for some attendees.
Coun Alan Bishop (Con, Blunsdon & Highworth) is a member of Highworth Town Council, which is organising Friday’s event.
He said: “That’s good timing.
“To choose that one night when everybody knows it’s the start of the firework displays and really they are on-call quite a bit on that night.
“They have chosen it on purpose because it will cause the most inconvenience.”
Coun Bishop said he did not think the Highworth show was under threat, with a professional firm running proceedings and the crowd stood far from the rockets themselves.
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