Firefighters return to duty

Following the last four days strike by the Fire Brigades Union from Friday 31 October 6.00pm till Tuesday 4 November 6.00pm, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s operational response service has returned to normal.

The industrial action was in relation to the FBU’s national dispute over pensions with central Government.

Cleveland Fire Brigade had contingency arrangements in place to provide emergency cover during the 96-hour period of disruption, which included having fully trained and experienced, professional firefighters supported by auxiliary firefighters.

Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer said: “This time of year, as you would expect is a busy time for us. The weekend before bonfire night is traditionally one of the busiest times for fire brigades, however the number of fires has reduced significantly in the last decade.

“Over the 96-hour strike period we dealt with 103 incidents, which is about average, roughly the same number as last year and what we would expect in early November. Our resilience arrangements performed well, dealing with house fires, fires in industry, rubbish fires, automatic fire alarms, road traffic collisions and special services where people were trapped or in danger.

“Whilst our contingency arrangements never fully replace the 21 fire engines and professional firefighters available to us under normal circumstances, the public can be reassured that we have, and will continue to provide an effective emergency response service at all times.

“The last place I want to see professional firefighters is outside fire stations and on picket lines. I know that firefighters do not want to be there either but they feel let down by the Government’s inability to provide an improved pension offer.

“I am sure that we all want to see our firefighters back working normally delivering the best possible prevention, protection and emergency response services we can to our local community. Therefore we continue to urge both parties to seek a mutually acceptable resolution to this dispute as soon as possible.  

“Finally I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank those who have volunteered their services to provide contingency cover over the last four days. Their efforts, commitment and professionalism in difficult circumstances have been excellent throughout.”