First strike by Norfolk Firefighters passes without incident ahead of week of walkouts

PUBLISHED: 09:02 14 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:02 14 July 2014

Firefighters on the picket line at Trowse fire station during the a strike last November. 

Firefighters on the picket line at Trowse fire station during the a strike last November. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Archant Norfolk

The first two-hour strike by firefighters in Norfolk passed without incident this morning.

David Ashworth, Area Manager at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There were no emergency calls at all and the strike passed without event.

“The arrangements we have put in place have been able to meet operational needs.”

Bosses at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service are reassuring members of the public that contingency plans are in place ahead of the week of strike action by members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The national walk out, which involves some of Norfolk’s firefighters, is taking place due to a national dispute between the government and the FBU over changes to the pension scheme.

The FBU is protesting that firefighters face having to pay higher pension contributions, work into their late 50s before retiring and could be sacked because their fitness declines as they get older.

But the government maintains the changes are fair.

The strike action is taking place on the following days at the following times:

• Monday (July 14) from 6am until 8am and from 5pm until 7pm.

• Tuesday (July 15) from 6am until 8am and from 5pm until 7pm.

• Wednesday (July 16) from 6am until 8am and from 5pm until 7pm.

• Thursday (July 17) from 6am until 8am and from 5pm until 7pm.

• Friday (July 18) from 6am until 8am and from 11pm until 1am on Saturday.

• Saturday (July 19) from 11am until 1pm and from 11pm until 1am on Sunday.

• Sunday (July 20) from 5pm until 7pm.

• Monday (July 21) from 6am until 8am and from 5pm until 7pm. After that industrial action short of a strike will continue until further notice.

Norfolk’s Fire chiefs said emergency fire calls will continue to be answered, but 999 calls may be prioritised and responses may be tailored to match operational demand.

They said about half of the county’s fire stations will be shut and there will be reduced levels of cover.

Norfolk’s chief fire officer Nigel Williams said: “We are facing short duration strike action over a prolonged period compared to the previous walk outs.

“However, I would like to reassure people in Norfolk that we have been working very hard to ensure we are as prepared as possible to deal with as many incidents as we can.

“We are fortunate in Norfolk that we will have a number of fire stations staffed by trained firefighters who are not taking part in strike action and that many of these will continue to operate as normal.

“If high call volumes are experienced we will need to carefully consider each call as it comes in before determining what our attendance will be.

“Our job is do the very best we can to protect the people of Norfolk and that is what we will do.”

Paul Smyth, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s communities committee said: “It is unfortunate this escalating national dispute remains unresolved.

“As in previous industrial action, we will try to run the Fire Service as effectively as possible during the strike periods and it would obviously be useful if the public helped to reduce the demands placed on Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service by following safety advice.”

Safety advice is available here.

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