GLOUCESTERSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service is reassuring communities that a professional service will be maintained in the county during three national strikes scheduled for the weekend.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called for its members to engage in industrial action over national pension arrangements.
Strikes are now planned for today, Friday, from noon until 5pm, then on Saturday, May 3 from 2pm until 2am and on Sunday, May 4 from 10am to 3pm.
Around 130 wholetime staff and a smaller number of retained firefighters in the county are members of the FBU and could support the strike.
Chief fire officer Stewart Edgar said: “We have contingency plans in place in the county, which have been proven to be effective in previous strikes.
“We would never be complacent however, I would urge residents and business owners to remain vigilant and make sure they do everything they can to stay safe in their homes or workplace.”
Local businesses are being given the following advice:
• Ensure fire alarms have been tested and are working
• Keep fire doors closed, with correct signage in place
• Make sure smoking policies are being rigidly enforced
• Switch off and unplug any unused electrical equipment where it is safe to do so
• Ensure refuse and waste is controlled and bins and skips placed away from buildings
• Supervise closely any work requiring the use of equipment which produces a flame or spark and avoid such work where possible
• Supervise and manage contract workers closely
• Make sure that lifts are well maintained and used correctly Meanwhile, residents are being encouraged to take steps to ensure their families are safe at home.
Fires can start for a variety of reasons, from cooking being left unattended, to electrical faults or candles being placed too close to furnishings.
The best advice is for everyone to ensure they have a smoke alarm in their home and to check the battery is working at least once a week.
More information and advice for residents can be found at www.glosfire.gov.uk or www.direct.gov.uk/firekills.
Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said: “This isn’t our fight, but we’ve made sure that we are fully prepared for any industrial action.
"It’s still very important that local people are aware of how best to stay safe from fires and what to do in case of an emergency.”
Residents are also being encouraged to avoid making unnecessary 999 calls.
During times of industrial action the priority for crews is those incidents where a life is at risk or someone needs to be rescued.
More than ever, it is important people only call the emergency number if they really need a fire engine.
Further arrangements have been made for potential large-scale incidents, including sharing resources of neighbouring services.