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Public urged to ‘take extra care’ during planned firefighters strikes over bank holiday period

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Assistant Chief Fire Officer of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) is urging communities to be ‘extra vigilant’ at home and on the roads following the Fire Brigades Union’s announcement that firefighters in England and Wales will take further industrial action in the run up to and during the May bank holiday weekend;

• Friday 2nd May between noon and 5pm
• Saturday 3rd May from 2pm until 2am the following morning
• Sunday 4th May from 10am until 3pm

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Rod Hammerton, stressed: “that whilst South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority understand why staff are taking industrial action The Fire and Rescue Authority has a duty and an obligation to ensure that the provision of services to the public remains as unaffected as is reasonably practicable”.

“The strike dates coincide with a bank holiday weekend when historically people tend to make the most of the holiday period be it travelling, socialising or barbecuing with family and friends. During this period we urge our communities to be extra vigilant as they go about their business, as regrettably the number of SWFRS staff expected to make a protest is high and will also include operational staff. This reduction in resources will mean SWFRS will not be able to provide the same high level of response to fires and other emergencies and as such life critical incidents will be responded to as a priority”.

In order to provide reassurance to communities, safety advice and guidance for the public is widely available through the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service website, social network sites on Facebook and Twitter, as well as through the local news.

Rod Hammerton, continued: “the importance of the following advice in the event of a fire, cannot be underestimated;

Prevention is best - paying extra attention to fire safety in the home.
If a fire does start - get out, stay out and call 999 and don’t be tempted to tackle a fire yourself.
Ensure you have a smoke alarm and test that it is in working order – fit one in your caravan before caravanning. Be extra vigilant about your safety when out camping or caravanning – be responsible with gas cylinders and when using flammable liquids. Never leave naked flames unattended.
Do not mix drinking and cooking – our experience proves it really can be a recipe for disaster. Everyone enjoys a bank holiday tipple but be responsible and do not leave cooking unattended. If you are hungry after a night out, get a takeaway or make a sandwich - do not get the chip pan out or leave cooking unattended.
Pay particular attention to road safety – if you are unfortunate enough to be in a collision we may not be able to get there to help you as quickly as we normally would
Switch off any unused electrical appliances before you go to bed, including your TV, and close all doors – make sure you have an escape plan in the event of fire
Ensure you extinguish smoking materials and take extra care with naked flames. Take care with barbeques – do not leave one unattended and always allow embers to cool before disposal.
Grass fires can spread quickly during dry weather; putting lives and property at serious risk so avoid using naked flames when out and about and dispose of smoking materials with care. Over 90% of grass fires are started deliberately., meaning there are totally avoidable, remember setting fires deliberately is a crime for which you can be prosecuted.

Business fire safety during industrial action

To ensure that your premises remain safe from fire during periods of industrial action:

Business owners should firstly undertake a review of their Fire Risk Assessment and if any changes are needed, implement those as a matter of importance. Precautions should also be made to prevent the occurrence of a fire. This might be as simple as walking around the building at the end of the working day to ensure that there are no combustible materials in the vicinity of the property.

Owners will also need to ensure that procedures for reducing the chances of a fire starting are well understood by all members of staff and that everybody remains alert to the dangers from fire. What each owner will need to do is dependant on their own Fire Risk Assessment.

During any period of industrial action, the responsibility for maintaining the fire precautions within the premises of the business remains with the ‘Responsible Person’ for the property and therefore, business owners are advised to ensure that everything is in place, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in order to ensure the safety of staff, visitors and the premises.

Rod Hammerton concluded; “If any member of the public needs to call South Wales Fire and Rescue Service regarding a non-urgent matter it would help us if they considered waiting an extra day to make that call”.

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