Firefighters are to walk out on strike on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – sparking fears revellers enjoying the festive season, and forgetting basic home safety, will be put at risk.
The Fire Brigades Union has announced its members will walk out between 7pm and midnight on Christmas Eve, and between 6.30pm and 12.30am on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day, in their ongoing row with bosses over pensions.
Firefighters have been taking days of industrial action since September in response to proposed changes to pensions and their retirement age.
The FBU argues the changes threaten older firefighters with losing their jobs, working beyond their physical fitness, or having reduced pensions.
South Yorkshire’s Chief Fire Officer Jamie Courtney is urging residents to celebrate the festive season safely in light of the new firefighter strike dates.
There are fears people distracted by Christmas and New Year celebrations will forget home safety precautions, including keeping an eye on their cooking, especially after drinking more alcohol than they might usually.
Mr Courtney said: “Cooking is still the biggest cause of house fires, so with these two strike periods both falling on festive dates, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, all that we’re asking is that people are sensible and take extra care in the kitchen.
“Don’t leave cooking unattended and don’t attempt to cook if you are under the influence of alcohol.
“Our emergency response service will be significantly reduced during the strike period, so the best way to stay protected is to have working smoke alarms on every level of your home.
“If you do discover a fire don’t attempt to tackle it yourself – get out, stay out and still call 999.”
Fire chiefs have recruited a team of contingency firefighters to be on hand to cover emergencies during the strikes.
The volunteers have been trained and get paid for the hours they work.
For more fire safety advice visit www.syfire.gov.uk or call 0114 2532314.