The announcement by firefighters of a strike next week has prompted bosses to say that working smoke alarms will be the best way for the public to keep safe.
Firefighters are to go on strike next Wednesday for four hours, from noon to 4pm.
Almost 80 per cent of firefighters nationally voted in favour of industrial action over retirement age and pensions in a ballot that ended earlier this month.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service bosses today called on people to test their smoke alarms as ‘the best way of making sure they have time to get out of the house if a fire starts’.
The fire service has been to more than 100 house fires in South Yorkshire in the last three years where a fitted smoke alarm didn’t go off, often because the battery was missing or flat.
Chief Fire Officer Jamie Courtney said: “We have been aware of the possibility of strike for several months. Earlier this summer we recruited and trained contingency fire crew, who are available to provide limited fire cover during a strike. We will now consider the strike date and finalise our contingency arrangements.
“However, the service we will be able to provide will be considerably depleted compared to our normal arrangements.
“The best way people can keep themselves safe is to take care to prevent fires from happening in the first place.
“We would suggest that people now test that their smoke alarms are working. If they don’t own any, they should buy and fit them as soon as possible.
“Smoke alarms give an early warning and can give occupants vital extra minutes to escape. But a smoke alarm can only save your life if it is working and the battery is checked regularly.”
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to Government.
“It is ludicrous to expect firefighters in their late 50s to fight fires and rescue families – the lives of the public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.”