Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Wishing you a safer, slower, sober Christmas as FBU plan more strikes

Due to Fire Brigades Union strikes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is calling for members of the public to put safety first amid the festivities. Whether you are on the move, out on the town or in your armchair for the holiday period, there are ways that you can help us to keep our limited resources available for real emergencies.

The times and dates for the strikes, which are part of the union’s ongoing dispute with Government over pensions, are as follows:
  • Tuesday 24th Dec 7.00 pm – midnight
  • Tuesday 31st Dec 6.30 pm - 12.30 am
  • Friday 3rd Jan 6.30 am - 08.30 am
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service will continue to provide emergency cover during this time, prioritising emergencies where lives are at risk, but emergency cover will be reduced at this busy time of year.

Members of the public must think carefully about their Christmas and New Year plans and, if necessary, make adjustments to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
  • Leave early and take your time – if you are traveling to spend time with friends and family, leave plenty of time for your journey and drive according to the road conditions. If you are planning to travel on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, consider leaving earlier to ensure you have completed your journey before the strike starts.
  • Stay safe at home or away – take extra care if you are hosting or visiting family and friends over Christmas and the New Year. Wherever you are spending the festive season, make sure there is a working smoke alarm on each floor and that everyone knows how to get out safely in the event of a fire. Simple home fire safety advice is available on our website.
  • Watch out for festive fire hazards – Christmas lights, candles and decorations present additional dangers at this time of year – please follow the advice on our website. Switch electrical items off overnight unless, like your fridge and freezer, they are designed to be left on. With one of the strikes taking place on New Year’s Eve, we are also recommending that members of the public avoid setting off fireworks at home to see in 2014. Make sure your chimney is swept before lighting a festive fire.
  • Celebrate safely – help us to focus our resources where they are most needed. Make a clear choice between drinking or driving and leave the car keys at home. Plan how you are going to get home in advance. If you are drinking and not driving, these excellent tips from Drinkaware could help you to have a fun and safe night out that you actually remember the next day. It’s a good idea to avoid cooking after you get home from the pub or club – a takeaway or cold snack is your safest option.
Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive Des Prichard said: “While we don’t want to spoil peoples’ fun, we cannot ignore the particular challenges posed by calling a strike at this time of year and the announcement that FBU members are also taking ‘action short of a strike’ over the festive period. The timing of the strikes – particularly the second stoppage covering New Year’s Eve – means that we need members of the public to take sensible precautions whatever their plans. Please take care, but if you do have a fire, get out, stay out and dial 999 – we will respond.”

FBU members voted to take ‘action short of a strike’ as an additional form of industrial action. The union has announced details of its first ‘action short of a strike’. On Christmas Eve, FBU members working in control will refuse to work voluntary overtime and between 7 pm on Friday 27th and 7 pm on Sunday 29th December FBU members, except those working in control, will refuse to work voluntary overtime. We have adjusted our contingency plans to take account of this development.

Further fire safety advice for homes and businesses is available at www.esfrs.org

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