Ahead of the national fire strikes over the new year, here are some key facts:
When are the fire strikes?
A planned strike on Tuesday 24 December between 7pm and midnight was called off in Surrey by the local Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) after the Environment Agency issued a severe weather warning for the county.
Strikes will take place on Tuesday 31 December between 6.30pm and 12.30am, and Friday 3 January 2014 between 6.30am and 8.30am.
Why are the strikes happening?
The strikes are taking place because of a national dispute between central Government and the FBU over proposed changes to firefighters’ pensions.
What fire cover will there be during the FBU strikes?
Surrey County Council has a contingency contract with private company Specialist Group International (SGI) to keep our residents safe.
SGI’s crews have all completed the full 17-week firefighters training course which includes fighting a range of fires, wearing breathing apparatus and using specialist equipment to deal with vehicle accidents. In addition, non-striking personnel will give emergency cover to increase the number of fire engines available.
How many fire engines and staff will be available compared to normal non-strike cover?
Final figures will be known when the strikes begin. During the last strikes on 13 and 14 December 2013, there were up to 10 fire engines available compared to around 20 normally. The staff on shift during the strike period comprised SGI, non-striking firefighters and other staff.
Will firefighters be locked out of stations and be unpaid for the whole shift?
Firefighters will be free to access fire stations during strike hours. They will work and be paid as normal for the non-striking part of the shifts.
Will uniformed firefighters be allowed to picket outside their stations during the strike?
Striking firefighters can legitimately picket outside their place of work, but cannot wear uniform when not working.
Is there anything we can do to keep safe?
SGI and our non-striking firefighters will crew as many engines as we can on the day. However, there will be fewer fire engines than normal, so it’s important residents take extra care.