Scottish Fire and Rescue Service put contingency measures in place for Christmas Eve strike

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 15:51 on 20 December 2013.
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HOUSEHOLDS in Cumbernauld are being advised that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is putting contingency measures in place to deal with strike action on Christmas Eve, as the Service prepares for its busiest season.

The Fire Brigades Union in Scotland will hold industrial action short of a strike on 24 December and between 27 and 29 December, it has been confirmed.

The first period of industrial action will consist of a refusal to work voluntary overtime by firefighters and control room personnel between 7pm and midnight on Tuesday 24 December, with the second action due to consist of voluntary overtime refusal, by firefighters, between 7pm on Friday 27 December and 7pm on Sunday 29 December.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has appealed to members of the public; confirming that they should continue to call 999, if there is an emergency.

Contingency arrangements are in place, the Service has confirmed, with advice from the Service confirming that emergency calls will be responded to as normal.

Commenting, Chief Officer Alasdair Hay said: “The industrial action being taken by the Fire Brigades Union relates to an on-going dispute between the FBU and the UK Government.

“This is not a dispute with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and we will continue to engage in constructive and positive dialogue with both the Fire Brigades Union and the Scottish Government in relation to the pension dispute.”

Meanwhile, the Service has also been campaigning to ensure that Scots have a memorial festive season; a season which will be memorable for the right reasons.

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay explained how the SFRS wants people to have a “great time” and remember this Christmas for “all the right reasons”.

He said: “We want everyone celebrating over the festive period to have a great time that can be remembered for all the right reasons.

“Everyone needs to be aware of the increased risks at this time of year, so we can all take action to prevent fire striking in our homes and those of people close to us.

“We know that 60 per cent of accidental house fires across Scotland are caused by cooking appliances and the risk is magnified at this time of year, when many people will be under the influence of alcohol.

“The fact is that alcohol and cooking are a potentially lethal combination.  Anyone who is cooking after having had a drink must be aware of the risk and take extreme care.

“Firefighters have seen too many tragedies where someone has been killed or seriously injured as a result of a house fire that should never have happened.”

SFRS have been appealing for people to take care over the festive season, with firefighters normally busy over the festive period, with more house fires in December and January than at any other time of year.

Chief Officer Hay added: “Even when no one is hurt, the impact is still incredibly powerful – with deep emotional trauma leaving psychological scars that last a lifetime.

“We all need to accept that fire can happen to us and take action to keep ourselves, our homes and our communities safe this Christmas.”

Chief Officer Hay said that in the event of fire, a smoke or heat alarm will alert people and give them more time to react safely and sensibly. He appealed for households to make sure that they have working smoke alarms, especially in the kitchen.

As part of the public appeal, adverts on television, radio and in newspapers will run throughout the festive season, feature serving firefighters sharing their memories of attending serious house fires.

Efforts to raise awareness of fire risks have made a difference with the number of accidental house fires falling over recent years, but SFRS is clear that fire is a constant threat the public need to help prevent.

Pat Watters, the chair of the SFRS board, added: “Many people across Scotland have welcomed firefighters from their community in to their home to share vital fire safety advice, with over 56,000 free home fire safety visits delivered in the past year.

“The help of the public is vital if the service is to reach those members of our communities who are most at risk, so we need anyone who keeps an eye on someone to consider putting them in touch.

“Arranging a free home fire safety visit couldn’t be easier – all you have to do is call the Freephone number 0800 0731 999, contact your local fire station, or visit www.firescotland.gov.uk.

“The crews will come round at a time convenient for the householder, when they can share some friendly advice about how to prevent fire from starting and how to make sure they can escape if it does.

“It’s a tremendous service and putting the fire service in touch with a vulnerable resident could save their life.

“Each of us has an important role to play in protecting our communities from fire and we all need to recognise the risks and act to prevent fire tragedies this Christmas.”

Minister for Community Safety, Roseanna Cunningham added: “Fire can take lives, tear families apart and destroy livelihoods. The festive period is traditionally a time where people get together to celebrate but it is important that everyone does so in a way that is safe from the risks of fire.

“Whether it is candles, more electrical appliances being around than normal or increased alcohol consumption, it is a particularly risky time for house fires and it is important that people take measures to protect themselves, their homes and their families.

“I would encourage everyone to take precautions, including ensuring they have working smoke alarms, and are never complacent.

“The emergency services play a vital part in keeping communities across Scotland safe, and I want to pay tribute to all the firefighters who are working hard over this festive period.”

More festive and winter safety advice is available on the SFRS website:  www.firescotland.gov.uk.

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