Ambulance trust prepare for fire strike

UP TO £10,000 has been spent by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust to prepare for a possible firefighters strike.It has been revealed that the Trust had to spend the money to buy vital cutting equipment to release people after car accidents in the event of the fire service being unavailable.

UP TO £10,000 has been spent by the East Anglian Ambulance Trust to prepare for a possible firefighters strike.

It has been revealed that the Trust had to spend the money to buy vital cutting equipment to release people after car accidents in the event of the fire service being unavailable.

Meanwhile fresh talks aimed at averting a national firefighters' strike were due to be held today, following a union decision not to go ahead with a threatened walkout from tomorrow.

The executive of the Fire Brigades Union decided to suspend the first of a series of planned eight-day strikes so that negotiations with local authority employers could continue.

The two sides were meeting in central London in another attempt to settle a long-running dispute over the union's 40per cent pay claim.

A new 48-hour strike is set to start from 6pm on November 13 and the union warned it will not call off any more industrial action.

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The union is due to hold three further eight-day walkouts between the end of November and Christmas Eve.

There are fears that the extra pressure on the ambulance service might make it difficult for them to reach their target times during the winter.

In September, Trust bosses revealed their concerns at the possibility of a strike by fire crews and said that alternative preparations must be in place before the winter set in.

At a meeting of the Trust , chief executive Chris Carney said that more staff would also be needed.

He said: "It will involve mobilising staff who would normally be doing other things, to go to a road traffic accident where people are trapped which the fire brigade would normally be involved in.

"We have spent and extra £6,000 to £10,000 on extra equipment, but it is no where near approaching what the fire brigade would have."

Mr Carney said that the Trust now felt prepared and that the military would provide as good a service as they possibly could.

He added that the storm force gales last weekend were a very difficult time for the service, particularly when two Norfolk paramedics had a lucky escape when a tree fell on to their ambulance.

Targets to meet patients within eight minutes in an emergency were still achieved but in some less urgent cases ambulances were taking as long as 30 minutes to reach calls because they had to find different routes where trees and debris were blocking roads.

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