Businesses must prepare for the strikes

A RETIRED firefighter is advising Suffolk businesses of precautions to take when the county's fire brigade strikes.Richard Lock's skills and knowledge are used by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce when its members make inquiries.

A RETIRED firefighter is advising Suffolk businesses of precautions to take when the county's fire brigade strikes.

Richard Lock's skills and knowledge are used by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce when its members make inquiries.

Chamber spokesman Dick Calvesbert, based in Felaw Street, Ipswich, said: "When we get requests for advice, we can forward that information on e-mail from Richard.

"Everybody is taking it fairly calmly at the moment and no particular requests have been received yet."


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He said most big businesses in the county already had stringent fire procedures in place.

"Larger companies have executives or a manager responsible for that area of the business. Marks and Spencer for example has very proper procedures, based on the company's experience in the Manchester bombing, about access to services.

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"It is such a long time since the last firefighters' strike that everybody is having to plan all over again."

Around the county, big employers are preparing for the strike.

At PPG Industries Ltd, Stowmarket, there is already a team of six firefighters and a small fire engine on site. Sokeswoman Louise Clifton said extra measures would be put in place during a strike to protect the 450 staff.

She said: "Because our product (paint) is highly flammable, we will not be allowing any hot works like welding unless it has the permission of the site manager. It won't affect production too much – welding is only for maintenance work really and anything urgent will be done off site.

"Everybody will be asked to be especially vigilant and turn their computers and other electrical equipment off at the end of the day."

Industries involving chemicals should look at procedures involving heat, such as welding, and should decide whether individual jobs could be put off until a time when firefighters were available, safety officials have suggested.

Advice to employers on fire safety during the strikes was now available on the Deputy Prime Minister's website www.odpm.gov.uk

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