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Hampshire fire chiefs warn of slower 999 response during strike
FIRE chiefs have warned they will not be able to respond to 999 calls as quickly when hundreds of Hampshire firefighters walk out on strike next week.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union voted for industrial action after negotiations with the Government over pension reforms ended in a stalemate.
Firefighters at all stations across the county will walk out between midday and 4pm next Wednesday, but it is not known how many of the 1,500 employed in the county will actually take part.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “This initial strike is a warning shot to Government. Firefighters could not be more serious about protecting public safety and ensuring fair pensions. It is ludicrous to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late 50s – the lives of the general public and firefighters themselves will be endangered.
“None of us want a strike, but we cannot compromise on public and firefighter safety.”
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service says it will remain operational during the four-hour strike period but has admitted that response times will increase.
Now bosses are calling on residents to do their bit, be extra-vigilant and to only call 999 if the situation is a real emergency.
Deputy Chief Officer Dave Curry said: “I want to reassure the public that we will be answering emergency calls and responding to them in the same way during the planned periods of industrial action.
“We are ready and prepared for the industrial action and have a robust business continuity plan in place. We will continue to offer a safe level of cover across the county to handle emergencies.
“However, there is inevitably going to be an impact on our usual response times.
“We would urge the public to be vigilant during the planned strike periods to help reduce unnecessary calls and take extra precautions to prevent fires in their own homes and businesses.”
The service is asking the public to only call 999 if there is a genuine need for a fire engine, as it will need to prioritise calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued.
Hampshire residents are also being encouraged to consider calling other relevant agencies for non-emergency calls, such as someone being locked out of their house or debris having fallen in a road.
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