Firefighters on strike tonight

Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is again reminding people to ‘take extra care’ when firefighters go out on strike tonight.

As part of a national dispute between the Fire Brigades’ Union and the Government over pension reforms, firefighters will be walking out for five hours from 7pm.

Further strikes have been announced for the evening of New Year's Eve and for two hours on the morning of January 3.

During this time, the Fire & Rescue Service will be providing a reduced emergency response, although fire cover is being maintained across the county.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “Obviously Christmas Eve is a time when people just want to relax and enjoy the start of the holidays with family and friends. Our priority is to maintain the best possible service for our local communities - should the worst happen, we want to be there to help and we are maintaining fire cover across the county to achieve that. Although we will have reduced resources, and it may therefore take us a little longer than usual to arrive, I would reassure people that, if they have an emergency and ring 999, we will respond.”

The following top tips will help you stay safe: • Make sure you have smoke alarms fitted and test them regularly.

• If you’re out for the night, take five minutes to unplug unused electrical items and any Christmas lights, and make sure no sockets are overloaded. Also close all internal doors – if there is a fire, this will help to contain the damage.

• If you stay in for the night, make these checks before you go to bed – and make sure you and anyone else in the property knows how to get out should something happen.

• Don’t leave cooking unattended, especially if you’ve been drinking or are on medication. If you’ve been drinking, it’s far safer to eat out or get a takeaway than to cook while under the influence of alcohol.

• If you smoke, dispose of cigarettes carefully, and don’t smoke in bed. Ideally, smoke outside as this reduces the risk of fire. Make sure matches and lighters are kept away from children.

• Be careful if you decide to light candles or tea lights – left unattended, these can easily lead to fires starting. Be particularly careful not to place candles near to Christmas decorations, cards or wrapping paper.

• Businesses should check their fire risk assessments and ensure that any staff members working on the evening of Christmas Eve are fully briefed on what to do if an emergency happens.

• If you’re out on the roads, drive to the speed limit and to the conditions – and don’t drink and drive.

• Should you have a fire, get out, stay out and call 999 – the Fire & Rescue Service will respond.

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