Stay safe during strike

Update issued at 2.35pm, 13.11.13

Area Commander Paul Burnham, who coordinated the brigade’s contingency plans during today’s four-hour strike by firefighters, said:

“We had 20 fire engines and four of our Brigade Response Vehicles available to use, crewed by operational staff who weren’t taking strike action.

“Fortunately, all but one of the ten incidents we attended turned out to be false alarms.

“We sent four fire engines to a high-rise bedroom fire in the Ward End area of Birmingham. It was started by hair straighteners which had been left on, and two neighbours who breathed in smoke were checked over by paramedics.

“It really shows the importance of making sure you switch off electrical appliances and devices when you’ve finished with them.”

There were six false alarms in Birmingham. The other three were in Halesowen, Bilston and Walsall.

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Businesses across the West Midlands are being urged to stay focused on the safety of their staff and premises during a four-hour strike by firefighters tomorrow (Wed 13 Nov).

West Midlands Fire Service is asking them to take extra precautionary measures during work which carries a fire risk until after the 10am-2pm Fire Brigades Union walkout, which has been prompted by a national dispute over pensions.

Area Commander Paul Burnham, Head of Emergency Response for WMFS, said: “We have written to major sites and employers to make sure they are aware of the industrial action and that our ability to respond to calls will be reduced during the four-hour period.

“We will have detailed contingency plans in place, but everyone can play a part in helping to minimise demand on the fewer resources we will have available. We want to minimise disruption to West Midlands employers, but some extra preventative measures and information to key staff can help to stop some incidents happening in the first place.

“Taking extra care during ‘hot works’ such as welding, for example, during the strike period is one thing we’d ask firms to consider. Security patrols should also be stepped up, and fire marshals made fully aware that the industrial action is taking place.”

A host of fire safety advice aimed at businesses is available in the ‘Stay safe’ section of the West Midlands Fire Service website: www.wmfs.net. The site also details ‘Six simple steps’ that people can take to keep themselves safe at home:

•    protect your home with working smoke alarms and test them weekly
•    take extra care in the kitchen
•    check your electrics
•    if you must smoke, do it safely
•    sleep safely and work through a safety checklist before you go to bed
•    plan a fire escape route and practise your escape plan with your family  

Tips for staying safe on the move:
 
•    any amount of alcohol affects your judgement, coordination and ability to drive, so it’s best not to drink and drive at all
•    if you’re going out for a drink, nominate a designated driver who won’t drink alcohol, use public transport or a pre-ordered taxi, or stay over with family or friends
•    drive appropriately for the road conditions, with seatbelts on and lights if need be
•    stick to speed limits - they give you thinking and braking time
•    pedestrians: be aware of what’s happening around you at all times, especially when crossing the road
•    pedestrians and cyclists: make sure you can be seen - wear bright and reflective clothing; check that your bike lights are working.   

Area Commander Burnham added: “Our plans have been drawn up and tested over recent weeks, to help us achieve the maximum impact with the resources we’ll have available. Although the 999 system will be working as usual, we will not be able to provide the normal level of firefighter cover during the strike. As I’m sure people would expect, we will prioritise incidents where there is a threat to life, followed by those involving property and then lower-risk call-outs.”

Ends

Issued by Neil Spencer, Senior Press Officer, West Midlands Fire Service, tel 0121 380 6101. On Twitter we’re @WestMidsFire

Press Release Date: 
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 09:30