FIRE crews across the area will down tools today for eight days of consecutive strike action.
Firefighters will head behind the picket line at various times of the day, every day until next Monday in a continuing row over pension changes.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has been in negotiations with the government for three years in an attempt to avoid the implementation of proposals that they say would see firefighters paying in more and working for longer.
Now, fire chiefs are urging people to be ‘extra vigilant’ during the industrial action.
Assistant chief fire officer Gavin Tomlinson said: “As we enter an extended period of FBU national strike action, it remains essential that members of our community stay vigilant and take extra steps to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out, and also take extra care when driving on our roads to lessen the chance of a road traffic collision.
“It is easy to become complacent when strikes continue to be announced, however when considering how easily a fire can start; whether it be cooking left unattended, an electrical fault, or a barbecue that has gone wrong, it becomes evident why communities should take that extra care.
“Everyone should have a working smoke alarm fitted on every level of their home, to provide vital early warning of a fire and to give occupants crucial time to escape.
“If you do have a fire, do not try to tackle this yourself; get out, stay out and call 999. We will respond.”
Today until Thursday, July 17, fire crews will strike from 6am to 8am and 5pm to 7pm.
On Friday, July 18, they will strike from 6am to 8am and 11pm to 1am.
On Saturday, July 19, they will strike from 11am to 1pm and 11pm to 1am.
They will strike from 5pm to 7pm on Sunday and 6am to 8am and 5pm to 7pm on the final Monday.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The government must realise that firefighters cannot accept proposals that would have such devastating consequences for their futures, their families’ futures — and the future of the service.”