Fire chief’s volunteer plea over strike fears

A fire chief is appealing to the public to train as auxiliary firefighters in case regular staff go on strike later this year.

Ian Hayton, Cleveland Fire Brigade’s Chief Fire Officer, said he had a legal obligation to provide emergency services during any industrial action.

The Fire Brigades Union and the Government are in dispute over pension reform and the union is balloting members regarding industrial action, which could happen as soon as September.

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Mr Hayton appealed for volunteers who will be trained as auxiliary firefighters.

He explained that fire services can no longer rely on military support, as in previous strikes, and Green Goddess trucks were no longer available.

Two categories of auxilliary firefighters were needed – drivers, and those who would tackle fires from outside to support trained employees inside a blazing building.

Mr Hayton said: “Whilst this is a national dispute between the FBU and Central Government, I still have a legal obligation to ensure I can continue to provide an emergency response throughout any period of disruption.

“Unlike during previous industrial action, there is no longer any military support available and there are no longer Green Goddesses to be called upon.

“This means that Cleveland Fire Authority may not be able to deal with calls for help from the public during these periods of industrial action.

“I am asking members of the public in the Teesside area to put themselves forward as auxiliary firefighters to provide a basic level of community safety from fire in the event of such action.

“I will employ Auxiliary firefighters as a supporting force to professional firefighters I already have in place and I will ensure they receive training in all activities they are required to undertake.”

He added: “Through these measures our communities can be assured that we will do everything in our power to ensure their safety.”