Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to follow fire and road safety advice following the announcement of more strikes due to take place over the festive period.
Due to a continuing row with the government over pensions, members of the Fire Brigade’s Union are set to strike on Christmas Eve between 7pm until midnight and from 6.30pm and 12.30am on New Year’s Eve.
A further strike has also been planned for Saturday January 3 between 6.30am and 8.30am.
In addition to the strikes, FBU members have voted to support a campaign called ‘action short of a strike,’ which will see its members in Cornwall refusing to undertake any voluntary overtime.
A spokesperson from Cornwall Council said it is unclear at this time what effect this will have but there is a possibility of localised disruption to services, particularly around staff availability.
The FBU said the action short of strike measures will be put into place on Christmas Eve between 7pm and midnight for fire control staff only, and between 7pm on Friday December 27 and Sunday December 29 for all personnel.
CFRS Chief Fire Officer Des Tidbury said: “This series of dates for full strike action and for action short of strike action will again impact on how we deliver a fire and rescue service to the people of Cornwall.
“During the previous periods of strike action, the conduct of all of our staff, both those taking action and those working, was exemplary throughout and I expect that the same will apply this time.”
Mr Tidbury said contingency plans put in place during previous strike action have been effective and have kept Cornwall safe.
“Once again, we have contingency plans in place to maintain minimum levels of cover during the strike action,” he said.
“The most important thing to remember is that if you do have a fire, get out of the building, stay out and call 999 – you will get an emergency response. We will continue to respond to emergency calls and will obviously prioritise those where lives are at risk. Public and fire fighter safety remains of paramount importance and we will give the best service to the people of Cornwall within the limitations of the resources available to us.”
“My message to residents and businesses is to remain vigilant. A part of the work carried out by the fire service includes attending road traffic collisions so I especially want to appeal to people who may be out and about enjoying Christmas festivities to make sure they have a plan on how to get home – have a designated driver who remains sober or perhaps book a taxi.”
He added: “I’m also asking businesses to take extra care when shutting up shop and to take note of our top tips for keeping businesses safe from fire.”
Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service issued the following advice for businesses:
• Be safety conscious when you carry out all checks at closing time
• Make sure your alarm systems are set before you leave
• Keep all fire escapes and entrances clear
• Switch off electrical appliances at the plug when not in use
• Avoid putting flammable waste out on the day
• Don’t store flammable goods under stairs or in enclosed spaces
• Keep smoking areas free of waste and empty ash trays
• Keep areas tidy and free from clutter
• Make sure your staff know what to do in the event of a fire
• Check your fire safety risk assessment
CFRS has issued the advice to householders to make preparations and take extra care with these six steps during the strike action:
• Make sure you have smoke alarms on at least every level of your home.
• Smoke alarms save lives, but only if they’re working. Test them regularly.
• Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully.
• Plan your escape route and make sure everyone knows how to get out in a fire.
• Take extra care in the kitchen and never leave cooking unattended.
• Do not overload electrical sockets. Watch out for faulty and over-heating electrical equipment, and wiring/cables.
Mr Tidbury added: “I would urge everyone to take extra care and time to think about fire safety in their home during this period - check smoke alarms; ensure you know what you would do if there is a fire and do not make unnecessary calls to the fire and rescue service. We have some safety advice which specifically relates to Christmas which is available on our website.”
Further advice and guidance is available for businesses and residents on the Council’s website www.cornwall.gov.uk/fire.