Fire strike passes without major incident in the North East

Fire chiefs have praised the public after the latest strike by staff passed without major incident in the region

Firefighters on strike at Byker Station
Firefighters on strike at Byker Station

Fire chiefs have praised the public after the latest strike by staff passed without major incident.

Firefighters held two walkouts over the weekend, but plans put in place by brigades in Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Northumberland ensured the safety of the public was not compromised.

Firefighters are in dispute with the Government over plans to reduce their pensions.

During the strikes, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service responded to a number of house fires, a gas leak and a road traffic collision, but Tyne and Wear chief fire officer Tom Capeling was happy with the response.

He said: “I would like to thank the public for their support in taking on board the safety messages we have been promoting and we would encourage them to continue to do so throughout the weekend.

“We hope that talks between the two parties will continue and that any further industrial action can be avoided.”

Durham fire brigade responded to only two incidents during yesterday’s strike, including hay bales on fire at Quebec, near Langley Park.

Stuart Errington, deputy chief fire officer, said: “Once again our resilience plans have worked well over the entire three days of strike action and we were able to provide people in County Durham and Darlington with a professional emergency response service.

“We would like to thank the public for listening to our safety advice and for taking extra care this weekend. During the 22 hours of strike action the overall number of emergencies that we were required to attend was reasonably low when compared to other bank holiday weekends.”

The weekend’s two walk-outs brought the number of strikes taken by the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) to 12.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Yet again firefighters have shown the strength of their anger over Government attacks on their pensions and have been united in standing up for a fair, workable and affordable deal.

“It’s very disappointing that we’ve been forced to hold another three days of strikes but nothing with deflect firefighters resolve when the future of their families — and the fire and rescue service itself — is at stake.

“Just like the current bout of industrial action, future strikes could be avoided simply by the Government honouring current pension promises and releasing proposals for the future that reflect the discussions we’ve held over the last three years and take account of the evidence we have presented about our occupation.”

The strikes did not affect the response to a large fire at a vacant building in Wallsend, which happened at 5.45am, before the first walk-out.

The fire at the J C Whites building on High Street West saw a cordon being put in place, though no-one was injured and no road closures were required. The incident is being treated as arson.

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