Back-up fire crews lined up for South Yorkshire stations

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Contingency crews will be drafted in to run fire stations in South Yorkshire if a planned strike over pensions goes ahead.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue has already recruited about 50 contingency staff who could be used if members of the Fire Brigades Union take part in a walkout – but admitted the service would be ‘depleted’.

However, the brigade has called on the union to continue negotiations with the Government in a bid to avoid a strike.

In a ballot on industrial action this week 78 per cent of union members supported it.

No date has yet been chosen for a strike, but the earliest it could be is September 6.

The union is in dispute with the Government over planned changes to firefighters’ pensions, which the FBU says are ‘unaffordable and unworkable’.

A South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue spokesman said: “We’re disappointed by the outcome and call on the Government and the FBU to negotiate an end to the dispute as quickly as possible, to avoid strike action.

“We have a responsibility to keep people safe and have contingency arrangements in place to enable us to provide the best emergency service we possibly can during any strike periods.

“However, we must be absolutely clear the service we will be able to provide will be considerably depleted compared to normal.

“The best way people can keep themselves safe is to take care to prevent fires from happening in the first place, and to ensure they have working smoke alarms fitted and regularly tested.”

About 660 firefighters in South Yorkshire are in the union and could take part in any strike action.

Any strike that goes ahead must take place within 28 days of the ballot.