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Firefighters ready for strike weekend
PREPARATIONS are being made to ensure there is enough cover during the latest strikes by firefighters due to take place this weekend.
Firefighters are walking out on Friday and Saturday night, between 6pm and 10pm, in a row over pensions and a raised retirement age.
It is the latest in a series of industrial actions which have taken place in recent months but fire chiefs say they have adequate cover and will be responding to 999 calls.
It is anticipated fire stations at Drove Road, Stratton and Westlea will all be out of action while the on-call station at Pewsey will also be closed.
Cover will come from stations manned by retained firefighters, such as Royal Wootton Bassett, while there will also be an appliance at an undisclosed location in the town.
However, because of the extra distance needed to travel, the response times to calls may be longer than usual.
Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “These will be the fifth and sixth walkouts by members of the Fire Brigades’ Union since September, and it is frustrating that the two sides in this national dispute have not been able to reach any sort of agreement.
“As on previous occasions, we will be making every effort to provide the best possible fire cover for the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon, but we will be operating with reduced resources.
“During the industrial action, we will still be responding to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer to arrive and, with larger premises, we may send a smaller attendance than usual in the first instance.
“We are now getting into Christmas party season, so we really need people to take extra care.”
The Fire Brigade Union have said in extreme circumstances they will come back on duty.
The disagreement is over government plans to increase pension contributions firefighters make as well as proposals to increase the retirement age from 55 to 60.
The FBU have said if the government plans are introduced then it will mean they will pay more than 14 per cent towards pensions amounting to £4,000 a year. The alteration in retirement age may also mean many struggle to pass fitness tests, said the union.
Residents are urged to not leave candles unattended and make sure fire alarms have been tested.
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