Firefighters to strike tonight on Halloween and also over Bonfire Night weekend because of long-running pensions dispute

Firefighters attending the Lady Lane Industrial fire earlier this week. Photo: MARK ELEY, SUFFOLK FI

Firefighters attending the Lady Lane Industrial fire earlier this week. Photo: MARK ELEY, SUFFOLK FIRE & RESCUE SERVICE

Fire chiefs have insisted that Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will be prepared for bonfire weekend – even though a four-day strike by Fire Brigades Union members will force the county to run a contingency service.

The strike, which starts tonight at 6pm and will continue for four days until 6pm on Tuesday, is over the Government’s planned changes to firefighter pensions.

The fire service has strongly recommended people to attend public displays, and not to take unnecessary risks for those who will be holding displays of their own.

Councillor Colin Spence, the Suffolk County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “Given the reduced availability of firefighters and fire appliances, and the potential for increased risk, the public are strongly encouraged to be extra vigilant and safety-conscious.”

Both Suffolk Fire and Rescue and Essex County Fire and Rescue have issued advice to people during this busy period, asking them to ensure their home is fitted with a working smoke alarm, avoiding the use of candles and naked flames, monitoring barbecues, disposing of charcoal carefully and disposing of smoking materials with care.

The fire services also insist that they have strong resilience arrangements in place to protect the county with working crews providing cover.

Firefighters in Suffolk and Essex also went on strike during the busy Bonfire Night period last year, after talks between the Government and fire bosses broke down in their ongoing dispute over pensions.

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Members of the FBU stopped work on November 1 and 4 last year.