Hampshire firefighters set to walkout for five hours in on going dispute

WALKOUT Firefighters on the picket line in September in Southsea.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132628-3)
WALKOUT Firefighters on the picket line in September in Southsea.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132628-3)

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FIREFIGHTERS are set to walk out for a second time over a dispute over pensions.

Crews from Cosham, Southsea, Havant, Fareham and Gosport, are due to take part in tomorrow’s strike, from 6.30pm to 11.30pm.

It follows a four-hour strike that took place last month.

Nigel McCullen, chairman of Hampshire Fire Brigades Union and a firefighter in Southsea, said: ‘We wanted the government to sit around the table and have meaningful talks to resolve the problem.

‘But they don’t seem to want to do that, which is why we’re striking again.

‘We’ve picked a later time, because it’s still a relatively safe time.’

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is reassuring the public that emergency calls will be answered and responded to during the strikes.

Neil Odin, assistant chief officer for HFRS, said: ‘We did maintain a level of operational cover during the first round of industrial action, with more than 50 per cent of our appliances being available.

‘We would like to reassure the public that during this next stage of industrial action, emergency calls will still be answered and responded to.

‘However, as with the last period of action, there is inevitably going to be an impact on our usual response times.

‘We would again urge the public to be vigilant during the planned strike periods to help reduce unnecessary calls and take extra precautions to prevent fires in their own homes and businesses.’

The service is asking the public to only consider calling 999 if there is a genuine need for a fire engine, as calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued will be prioritised.

Mr Odin added: ‘Ensure smoke alarms are working and consider checking your family and neighbours smoke detectors are in good working order.

‘Businesses should ensure their fire alarm systems are properly maintained and working properly to avoid unnecessary call-outs. All precautions to reduce the risk of fire should also be in place.

‘And take extra care on the road. Check your car is road safe, keep your distance and drive carefully.’

For more fire safety advice and information on the industrial action, visit hantsfire.gov.uk