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Dorset fire chief insists all 999 calls will be answered during strike
DORSET fire chief Darran Gunter insists all 999 calls will be answered today, despite a number of his firefighters supporting strike action in a row over pensions.
Dorset Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) will be operating with a reduced emergency response when the strike takes place, between midday and 4pm, so they’re urging people to only call if they really need a fire engine.
Mr Gunter, pictured, said: “Our priority will be to respond to those priority calls where a life may be at risk or someone needs to be rescued.
“If we respond to non-emergency calls then those most in need could be at risk.”
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted to support the four-hour walkout after negotiations broke down earlier this year.
The FBU is angry the government has offered to only release full pensions to firefighters when they reach 60 years old.
Union members say this means many firefighters face significant financial losses if they cannot remain front line operational until that age.
Dorset FBU representative Karen Adams said: “Does the public want 60-year-old firefighters? No they do not. It’s totally ludicrous to think that.”
She added: “Only those on duty today, across four watches, will be affected. If the government will not talk to us anymore then people have got to protect their livelihoods.”
It is thought around 30 DFRS firefighters will be supporting the strike across the county, but there will be no visible picketing or demonstrations at fire stations.
And FBU leaders insist Dorset FBU members are sanctioned to break the strike if a major incident takes place.
Meanwhile, county fire chief Darran Gunter confirmed: “Whilst the industrial action is ongoing we will still be responding to 999 calls, but we are asking people to only call 999 if they really do need a fire engine.”
Bournemouth University staff and students have been advised to take extra precautions during today’s strike.
A memo to all staff read: “Everyone should consider delaying any non-essential activities that may increase fire risk until full fire service coverage is resumed.”
Visit dorsetfire.gov.uk for tips on how to protect your home from fire.
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