Safety warning as South Yorkshire fire crews walk out on strike

James Courtney, chief fire officer.
James Courtney, chief fire officer.

Fire chiefs are warning members of the public across the county to take extra care this weekend as firefighters walk out on strike in the run-up to Bonfire Night.

The strike began at 6pm last night and will continue until 6pm next Tuesday, November 4.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue says its emergency response service will be severely reduced, with significantly fewer fire engines available to respond to 999 calls.

Chief fire officer James Courtney said: “As has been the case during previous strike periods, we have contingency arrangements in place to provide a basic level of fire cover to the people of South Yorkshire. 
“But our 999 service will still be severely depleted so we need the public to help keep our fire engines available for real emergencies.

“Our best advice is to attend an organised display.”

He added: “If you insist on holding your own event, then take extreme caution and follow our usual advice to make sure bonfires don’t get out of control and the number of incidents is kept low.”

Firefighters are walking out because of a long-standing dispute over pension changes. The Fire Brigades Union argues the Government’s proposals will leave many firefighters at risk of dismissal as their fitness declines and they age into their fifties.

The strike action comes between Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night celebrations - a time of year when the service is normally in high demand.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have a government of millionaires who are wrecking the pensions of firefighters and other public sector workers while the real scandal is that their own pensions are by far the most generous anywhere in the public sector.

“This is a case of those at the top getting more while everyone else is robbed blind.”