Sheffield family in fire strike plea

Gill Matthews from Shiregreen outside her property which was damaged when her car caught fire outside
Gill Matthews from Shiregreen outside her property which was damaged when her car caught fire outside
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A woman whose home caught fire during the last firefighter strike is calling on the Government to end the long-running dispute.

With firefighters taking industrial action again this week, Sheffield woman Gill Matthews said those in authority need to resolve the row before anyone gets injured.

When her car went up in flames on the driveway of her house on Keepers Close, Shiregreen, during a fire service strike last July the flames spread to her house because of the length of time it took contingency crews to arrive at the scene.

Gill, aged 49, her husband Michael, 49, and their three children live close to Elm Lane fire station, but with crews on strike that day volunteers took 11 minutes, 41 seconds from the call being received to turn up - more than double the average response time for the area.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, who is not involved in the strike called by the Fire Brigades Union, was on the engine which eventually turned up.

Gill said she supported firefighters in their fight against Government changes to their pensions.

“Firefighters have to strike because there is no other way the Government will listen to them, so we have no gripe with the firefighters at all - they have to do what they think is right,” she said.

“We were just unfortunate to have a fire during the last strike. We appreciate how invaluable the service is and support the firefighters in their effort to preserve it.

“We couldn’t cope without our firefighters and the Government needs to realise this and resolve the situation before somebody get injured during the strike action.”

Firefighters started eight consecutive days of strike action last Saturday.

They are downing tools between noon and 2pm and then 11pm and midnight each day.

Chief Fire Officer Courtney said he breathes a ‘sigh of relief’ at the end of each period of industrial action.

There are eight fire engines available for the county instead of the usual 19 full time appliances.