People urged not to have bonfires during tonight's firefighters strike
PEOPLE planning a bonfire party in South West Wales this evening are being urged to postpone the festivities until tomorrow because of a firefighters strike.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union will walk out this evening from 6.30pm to 11pm as part of a long-running dispute between the union and the UK government over pensions.
The chief fire office of Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Richard Smith, said he thought he could provide a level of cover tonight that was “almost business as usual” — but said it would be preferable if people could switch bonfires to a different date.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning he said he would have around 85 per cent to 90 per cent of the firefighting assets he would usually have available for action tonight.
He said: “Through proper planning and judicious use of the resources we have available, I am pretty confident that we can provide almost a business-as-usual service to the communities I serve.”
He said that, irrespective of the strike, he would urge people to take extra care, and to only attend an organised fireworks display, adding: “If people are planning around having a bonfire night on Saturday night instead of tonight, that would be preferable.”
Mr Smith also said the dispute was between the union and government and was not "in the gift" of fire and rescue services to solve, and added that he thought strikes damaged the reputation of the service.
The Fire Brigades Union and the UK government are locked in a bitter dispute over pensions reform, in particular a plan to make firefighters work until they are 60.
The union said it wanted the government to return to negotiations.