Suffolk/Essex: Fire crews set to strike over busy Bonfire Night period

Firefighters are set to strike in Suffolk and Essex

Firefighters are set to strike in Suffolk and Essex - Credit: Nick Butcher

Firefighters in Suffolk and Essex are set to strike during the busy Bonfire Night period.

Dozens of stations across the region will be short of crews after talks between the Government and fire bosses broke-down following crisis pension talks.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union will stop work between 6.30pm and 11pm tomorrow evening and 6am and 8am on Monday.

Mark Hardingham, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are prepared to deal with the further strikes which the Fire Brigades Union has announced. Once again we will implement our contingency arrangements, which will enable us to deliver a reduced service.

“The first strike date falls on the Friday before Bonfire Night. This is also just before Diwali and it also falls in the half term period, so we are advising people to take extra care with fireworks, bonfires and candles.”

Crews in Essex will also be setting up picket lines with fire chiefs urging motorists to take care during rush-hour

periods.

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Divisional officer, Neil Fenwick, said: “Crews deal with hundreds of road incidents every year, they make up a huge part of the work that we as a fire and rescue service do, so by being more careful and driving more slowly motorists can make a real difference to reduce the calls we face during the strike period and keeping the county safer.

“Our message to motorists is be safer, be slower, be vigilant. By slowing down and driving more carefully motorists can help make the county a safer place. Leave a little earlier and enjoy a relaxed, safer drive.”

FBU general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “It is ludicrous that after two years of negotiations the Government has still not sorted out this mess.

“Firefighters are keen for these issues to be resolved through discussion but the Government won’t even listen to its own evidence which highlight that the schemes are unworkable and unaffordable.

“Firefighters want a pension scheme that takes account of the hazardous nature of the job, is affordable and workable for them and for the taxpayer. We hope this brief strike will mean the Government returns to negotiations so we can agree a sensible way forward.”