THE Fire Brigades’ Union has called three strike actions over the festive period, starting with a five hour walkout by its members from 7pm tomorrow, Christmas Eve.

As on previous occasions, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue has contingency plans in place which mean that it will largely be business as usual despite the strikes, which are part of a national dispute between the FBU and the Government over pension changes.

However, local people and businesses should make sure they do everything they can to stay safe in their homes or workplace.

Geoff Sallis, deputy chief fire officer, said: "Fire safety is important all year round, but in December there are added risks whether from unsafe decorations or simply being distracted when the celebrations begin.

"By following very simple advice everyone can be assured of a peaceful and safe Christmas."

GFRS has put together some top tips for staying safe on Christmas Eve.

Make sure you have smoke alarms fitted and test that they work.

Never leave burning candles unattended. Keep candles out of the reach of children and away from curtains, decorations, cards and wrapping paper.

Make sure all Christmas lights are switched off and unplugged before you go to bed or leave the house. Check that your lights conform to British Standard BS EN 60598.

If you have a real fire, make sure you have the chimney swept and always use a fireguard.

Don’t leave cooking unattended, and avoid cooking if you’ve been out for a festive drink.

If you smoke, make sure cigarettes have been fully extinguished. Take particular care when you’re tired or have 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 and call 999.

Don't overload sockets and always turn off plugs when they are not in use - except those that are designed to be left on like freezers.

Check on older relatives and neighbours to ensure their safety.

Following the action on Christmas Eve, the FBU has said it will strike from 6.30pm to 12.30am on New Year’s Eve and then from 6.30pm to 8.30am on 3 January.