Greater Manchester residents are being warned to be extra vigilant as firefighters across the region are set to strike tonight.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority’s strike action, due to take place between 6.30pm and 11pm on Friday and 6am to 8am on Monday, coincides with the Bonfire night celebrations that will place across the country over the next few days.
County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk urged the people of Manchester to ensure that they are properly prepared should an emergency arise.
“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,” he said.
“We are aware that it is a busy time for the fire service so I would urge people to take extra care and only attend organised bonfires and firework displays.”
A limited number of fire engines will be available during the strikes and calls will be dealt with in order of importance.
“We have recruited and trained an Emergency Fire Crew to provide fire cover,” Mr McGuirk said.
“This will be much reduced from our usual service with fewer engines attending a limited range of incidents and we will be prioritising calls.
“For more information please check our website [manchesterfire.gov.uk] and follow our social media profiles on Facebook and Twitter.”
The strikes are a result of an on-going disagreement between the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and the government over pension schemes, with the first action taking place on September 25 of this year.
The government has called the action “completely unnecessary”, and Fire minister Brandon Lewis condemned the FBU for “walking away” from negotiations.
He said: “Talks were progressing encouragingly and in good faith so for the FBU to walk away after only four days of negotiation is completely baffling.”
However, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack today implied that it was the government who had left negotiations.
“We want the Government to return to the negotiating table,” he said.
“It [the strike] is very much the last resort for firefighters.
“It does hopefully demonstrate to people how angry firefighters are.”
GMFRU have published safety guidelines to help Mancunians minimise the risk of fires while the strikes take place.
Check your smoke alarm and if you don’t have one, get one immediately
Know what could cause a fire in your home and make sure you and your family know how to prevent it
Don’t try to tackle a fire yourself, and never go back into a burning building
Plan your escape route in case there is a fire
Look out for family and neighbours, especially elderly or vulnerable people
Don’t leave cooking unattended, even just for a few seconds
Ensure all candles are blown out when you go to bed or leave the house
Only dial 999 in a genuine emergency
If you would like to book a Home Safety Check, which may include the fitting of smoke alarms, please call 0800 555 815.
Reduce your speed and give yourself time to react – you never know what’s around the corner
Never use your mobile phone when driving, pull over somewhere safe before making or taking a call
Always wear your seatbelt and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs.
Keep your distance – remember the two second rule. Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front
If you are feel tired take a break – driving while tired can be lethal
Drive for the conditions – in wet weather stopping distances are at least double those for stopping on dry roads
ALL cyclists should wear a properly fitted cycle helmet
If GMFRS responds to non-emergency calls then those most in need could be at risk.
A non-emergency call could be to someone who is locked outside their house or where debris has fallen in the road – there are other agencies and organisations that can help in this instance.
However, you should still call 999 in an emergency so that an experienced Control Room operator can deal with your situation and please don’t call your local fire station directly.
The Emergency Fire Crews will only provide a basic level of cover and will not be trained to the same level as our current crews.
So GMFRS is asking the public to help by taking extra care and only dialling 999 if they need a fire engine, whilst the industrial action is taking place.
The priority of the Service on Saturday evening will be to respond to priority calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued.
For further information on taking extra care during the strike, please visit http://www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/updates/take_extra_care.aspx