Residents urged to minimise fire risk when Cumbrian firefighters take industrial action (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Residents urged to minimise fire risk when Cumbrian firefighters take industrial action
5:52pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in News
RESIDENTS across Cumbria are being urged to take extra fire safety steps to protect themselves and their loved ones when firefighters go on strike.
During industrial action, set to take place between 12noon and 4pm on Wednesday September 25, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) is asking people in the county to minimise the risks of fire and avoid making unnecessary 999 calls.
The strike, called by the Fire Brigades’ Union (FBU) in response to a dispute with the Government over proposed changes to firefighter pensions, means CFRS will be operating a reduced emergency response when industrial action takes place and is going to be unable to provide the comprehensive level of cover.
While 999 calls will continue to be answered as normal, CFRS's response to incidents where life is considered to be in danger will be prioritised. Although the service will try to attend all emergency calls, on occasion some incidents where life is not considered to be at immediate risk such as small fires and automatic fire alarms may receive a reduced or even no response.
Cumbria’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer Ian Cartwright, said: “We have been working on putting contingency plans in place for some time in order to maintain fire and rescue service capability during any strikes but we’re also asking the people of Cumbria to help us out by taking extra fire safety steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out in their home.
“Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings. The best advice we can give is for everyone to ensure they have a smoke alarm in their home and to check the battery is working at least once a week.
“Smoke detectors provide an early warning of a fire and can give occupants vital extra minutes to escape, especially at night. But a smoke alarm can only save your life if it is working and the battery is checked regularly.”
More than 50 per cent of accidental dwelling fires attended by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service start in the kitchen, so people are asked to take particular care when cooking.
To enable CFRS to deal with the most important emergency calls residents are being urged to avoid making 999 calls unless it is absolutely necessary.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Cartwright added: “Our highest priority during industrial action will be to respond to those crucial calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued. If we respond to low priority calls then those most in need could be at risk.
“A low priority call could be to someone who is locked outside their house or where debris has fallen in the road.”
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