Fire chiefs say reduced service on bonfire night during strikes

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Suffolk Fire and Rescue will be operating a reduced service but is ready to protect the county during the Fire Brigade Union four day strike action, fire chiefs have said.

Starting on 31 October at 6pm until 4 November at 6pm, this is will be four continuous days of action.

With fireworks and bonfire events planned across the county this weekend, Suffolk’s firefighters are intent on spreading vital fire safety messages; encouraging people not to take any unnecessary risks.

SFRS is strongly advising people to attend official, organised celebrations, but is issuing the following advice for those who are having celebrations of their own:

● Before you light the bonfire, check that children and animals are a safe distance away

● Never leave bonfires unattended

● Never light bonfires in unsuitable weather conditions, particularly wind

● Never use flammable liquids to start the fire, and never burn dangerous rubbish such as aerosols

● Have only one person in charge of lighting the fireworks, and use eye protection and gloves

● Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on each firework. Read them by torchlight – never a naked flame

● Light fireworks at arm’s length using a safety firework lighter or fuse wick

● Never go back to a firework once lit

● Keep a bucket of water nearby

● Put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water

● Never throw used fireworks on a bonfire

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said; “Given the reduced availability of firefighters and fire appliances during these periods of action and the potential for increased risk created by bonfire and firework events and people using candles, the public are strongly encouraged to be extra vigilant and safety conscious. We highly recommend that families attend organised and safely managed public events and that safety advice regarding bonfire and firework safety is reviewed and followed very closely.

“In addition to bonfire and fireworks safety messages, simple common sense precautions such as testing smoke alarms, not using Chinese lanterns, keeping an eye on food cooking, driving carefully and looking out for vulnerable neighbours and friends will reduce the risk of fires and other accidents.”

Senior officers within the county’s fire and rescue service expect to have at least 20 fire engines available during the four day strike.

999 calls will continue to be answered as normal and the nearest available fire engines sent to emergencies. These will be crewed by firefighters not taking part in the strike action.

No further strikes have been announced at this stage by the FBU.