Members of the public are being urged to attend officially organised bonfire events tonight while firefighters stage a second strike in an ongoing row over pensions.
Fire crews from across the West Midlands and Staffordshire are walking out in two fresh strikes in the run-up to Bonfire Night as their bitter row with the Government continues. Fire service bosses said they were ‘concerned’ about the strikes.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will walk out tonight from 6.30pm to 11pm and on Monday from 6am to 8am.
It follows a four-hour walkout at the start of October. Area Commander Paul Burnham, head of emergency response for West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS), said: “Friday nights are among our busiest times of the week. Lots of people will be looking forward to bonfires and fireworks.
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“We’re not asking them to cancel their private parties or public events on Friday but they must be extra careful and have in place all the safety measures they can.
“The best option is to go to an officially organised public event. However, even then, people need to bear in mind that we will have fewer fire engines available on Friday night, meaning that it could take us longer than usual to attend incidents.
“Organisers should make sure they have every possible precaution in place.” All 999 calls will be answered as normal, he said.
Mr Burnham added: “We will be prioritising incidents involving a threat to life, followed by those involving property and then lower-risk call-outs.”
“Some WMFS staff who are not striking on Friday night will help to provide a level of emergency response, but the brigade is asking the pubic to do all they can to stay safe and, hopefully, avoid needing to call for help in the first place.”
He also urged people to be vigilant when cooking at home and for anyone who ‘goes out for a few drinks’ tonight to be as sensible as possible. He also appealed to entertainment venues, restaurants, and licensed premises, to make staff and customer safety a top priority tonight.
He advised businesses which are usually closed at the weekend to double-check their fire precautions in advance.
The four-hour strike last month passed without major incident across the West Midlands and Staffordshire but dozens of calls for help still came through.