INDUSTRIAL action by Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service is set to affect 999 calls for eight consecutive days from Saturday.

Fire Brigades Union members will be striking between 12noon and 2pm and 11pm and midnight each day.

The union is striking over the government’s decision to increase the pension age for firefighters to 60 which they argue could lead to older firemen being sacked for failing fitness tests.

Tam McFarlane, EC member for the FBU, said: “No firefighter wants to go on strike but we are being forced into this action by the government’s decision to raise the pension age.

“Firefighters could be left without a job and a pension.”

Salisbury will affected by this action and although Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has put in place contingency plans it is expected that 999 calls will take longer to respond to.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Routh-Jones said: “As on previous occasions, we will have reduced resources during these strike periods.

“We will respond to 999 calls, but it may take us a little longer than usual to arrive.”

To avoid potentially hazardous fires Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service has asked residents to be extra careful and has issued safety tips for households.

Some top tips on staying safe during the strike:

• Always make sure you have working smoke alarms and test them every week.

• Never leave cooking unattended. The majority of fires start in the kitchen so this is a high risk area. Avoid cooking whilst under the influence of alcohol and always turn off kitchen appliances when you have finished cooking.

• If you smoke, make sure cigarettes are fully extinguished. Take particular care when you’re tired or been drinking, as it’s very easy to fall asleep while your cigarette is still burning.

• Make sure everyone in your home knows what to do in the event of a fire – get out, stay out, call 999.

• If you’re out on the roads, drive to the conditions and never drive if you’ve been drinking. Remember, it’s better to arrive a few minutes late than not arrive at all.