Back-up crews kept busy during firefighters' strike - but no major incidents (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Back-up crews kept busy during firefighters' strike - but no major incidents
RELIEF fire crews in the North-East attended dozens of incidents - including a road accident - during industrial action last night, bosses have confirmed.
Firefighters in County Durham and Darlington were called to 12 incidents during the walkout by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members on Friday (November 1).
These included a road traffic collision, a garage fire, an incident of flooding and a number of small fires.
Cleveland Fire Brigade was called to 15 incidents, including bonfires and small rubbish fires, during the strike, which was held between 6.30pm and 11pm.
Across Tyne and Wear, a total of 48 emergency calls were received and back-up crews attended 25 incidents.
They included a stable fire in Newcastle Road, in Sunderland, and an allotment fire in Gosforth.
The industrial action was called by the FBU over its ongoing national dispute with the Government over pension scheme proposals.
Stuart Errington, deputy chief fire officer for County Durham and Darlington, said: “The resilience plans that we had in place ensured that, during the period of industrial action, we were able to provide a professional response.
“In the weeks before this strike, as well as the first strike, on Wednesday, September 25, we have been encouraging members of the public and businesses to take extra care in relation to fire safety and road safety.
“We are pleased that this work seems to have had an impact and we have seen a reduction in the number of calls received compared to what would usually be expected on a busy Friday evening just before bonfire night.”
Further strike action is planned between 6am to 8am on Monday.
Mr Errington added: “We would urge people to continue to take extra care as they prepare to start their week.
“We hope that government and the FBU continue talks and resolve their differences so that further industrial action can be avoided.”
Ian Hayton, chief fire officer for Cleveland, added: “Our auxiliary firefighters again provided a successful supporting role and I would like to thank them for their work, as well as the work of our professional firefighters not involved in the strike action.”
FBU organiser Andy Noble said members ‘thought long and hard’ about the timing of Friday’s walkout.
He said: “We looked at when most of the organised bonfires are going to be held and it is Saturday (November 2) night.”
FBU members say the long-running pension wrangle could see firefighters dismissed under workplace capability procedures as a result of naturally declining fitness levels if they are forced to work past the current retirement age of 55.
It is feared long-serving service members could be left without either a job or a pension.
Asked about the morale of FBU members in the region over the wrangle, Mr Noble described it as ‘a mixture of anger and frustration’.
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