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September 20, 2013

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Firefighters to go ahead with strike


Firefighters in England and Wales will strike over pensions on 25 September, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced.
This comes after nearly 80 per cent of the union voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot in early September. 
FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to the government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions.
“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late-50s; the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.”
The FBU said that over half of current firefighters between the ages of 50 and 54 are no longer able to meet fire and rescue service fitness standards for fighting fires. 
Research conducted by the FBU found that although older firefighters could be moved to less physically demanding roles, there are only a few redeployment opportunities in fire and rescue services available, which would result in more redundancies.
The Department for Communities and Local Government is working with the Local Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRA) to ensure that appropriate contingency plans are in place for the strike. 
Their top line advice for businesses at this time is to:
  • review your current fire risk assessment;
  • check your detection systems;
  • make sure escape plans are in place and employees know them; and
  • avoid arson risks, such as rubbish left around.
FRAs are responsible for enforcing general fire safety precautions in the majority of workplaces, buildings and dwellings.
This includes fire doors and means of escape, firefighting equipment on premises, fire alarms and smoke detectors and fire drills and training employees in fire mitigation.
The HSE has responsibility for general fire safety precautions on construction sites and with respect to ship-building and repair.
Firefighters in Scotland will not strike, while union officials are discussing the Scottish Government’s most recent proposals, however a settlement has not yet been found, and the strike ballot could still result in industrial action.

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