Firefighters on strike at Ryde Fire Station back in November. Picture by Laura Holme.
ISLANDERS are being asked to be extra vigilant as members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) take part in strike action on two of their busiest days of the year.
FBU members are set to down tools between 7pm and 12am tomorrow (Christmas Eve) and 6.30pm and 12.30am on New Year’s Eve, as part of a long-running dispute with the government over pensions.
The two stoppages are the longest periods of strike action announced since industrial action in the dispute began, putting increased pressure on contingency plans.
At Christmas, there is a greater risk of fire due to the increased amount of combustible items in homes such as Christmas trees and decorations.
People are being warned never to leave burning candles unattended, to switch electrical items off when not in use, and to take extra care when cooking late at night, particularly if under the influence of alcohol.
With very limited fire cover on New Year’s Eve, people are being advised not to let off fireworks. If people plan to do so, then extra care and all necessary precautions should be taken.
Fireworks should be lit away from properties and buckets of water should be kept nearby.
People are also being advised to place used fireworks in a bucket of soil and wear suitable protection such as gloves when handling fireworks.
During strike action, cover will be maintained by non-FBU members who will attend life critical incidents such as house fires or road traffic incidents. People should continue to dial 999 in an emergency.
Steve Apter, chief fire officer, said: "Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are two of the busiest times of the year for fire services across the country and I would urge everyone to be extra cautious.
"Although the Island will have fire cover for both evenings and FBU members will also attend life critical incidents, the service will be reduced during the strike periods and we cannot guarantee a response to all calls."
A third day of strike action will take place on January 3 between 6.30 to 8.30am.
Information about the Island’s fire and rescue safety advice for homes and businesses can be found at www.iwight.com/fire.
The council has also uploaded fire safety videos on its YouTube channel which can be seen by going to www.youtube.com/iwcouncil