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West Midlands Fire Service Press Release: Safety Advice re Firefighters’ strike 1 Nov

West Midlands Fire Service is warning people planning bonfire and fireworks parties this Friday night (1 November) to make safety their top priority, with some firefighters set to stage a four-and-a-half hour strike.

The next industrial action planned by the Fire Brigades Union in a national dispute over pensions is due to start at 6.30pm on Friday and finish at 11pm.

Area Commander Paul Burnham, Head of Emergency Response for WMFS, said: “Friday nights are among our busiest times of the week. Lots of people will be looking forward to bonfires and fireworks. We’re not asking them to cancel their private partries or public events on Friday, but they must be extra careful and have in place all the safety measures they can.

“The best option is to go to an officially organised public event. However, even then, people need to bear in mind that we will have fewer fire engines available on Friday night, meaning that it could take us longer than usual to attend incidents. Organisers should make sure they have every possible precaution in place.

“Public safety is central to our contingency plans, and 999 calls will still be answered as normal. We will be prioritising incidents involving a threat to life, followed by those involving property and then lower-risk call-outs.”

Some WMFS staff who are not striking on Friday night will help to provide a level of emergency response, but the brigade is asking the pubic to do all they can to stay safe and, hopefully, avoid needing to call for help in the first place.

A/Cmdr Burnham added: “People must be vigilant if they’re cooking at home, whether it’s at teatime, for a fireworks party, or later when they get back from a night out. And anyone who’s out for a few drinks needs to be as sensible as possible.”

He also appealed to entertainment venues, restaurants and food outlets, and licensed premises to make staff and customer safety a top priority on Friday night. He advised businesses which are usually closed at the weekend to double-check their fire precautions in advance.

Before your firework display

•    don’t buy fireworks from anywhere you’re not sure about, like a van or a temporary, unlicensed market stall
•    only buy fireworks marked BS 7114 or with a CE mark – this shows that the firework meets British or European safety standards (a reputable shop will know this)
•    follow the instructions on each firework – read them in daylight or by torchlight, never by a naked flame
•    make suitable supports and launchers if you’re setting off Catherine wheels or rockets

On the night, make sure you have:

•    a closed metal box to store the fireworks – take them out one at a time
•    a bucket of water – to cool sparklers and put out any small fires
•    eye protection and gloves
•    a bucket of earth to stick fireworks and to hold them steady

Lighting fireworks

•    only one person should be responsible for letting off fireworks
•    don’t drink alcohol if you are setting them off
•    light fireworks at arm’s length, using a taper
•    make sure everyone stands well back
•    never go back to a firework that has been lit – even if it hasn’t gone off it could still explode

Sparklers

•    supervise children with sparklers and never give them to a child under five
•    light sparklers one at a time and wear gloves
•    put used sparklers hot end down into a bucket of sand or water.

Whatever people’s plans on Friday night, West Midlands Fire Service is asking them to make sure that they, their families and friends take six simple steps towards reducing the risk of fire in their home. The steps, published in detail at www.wmfs.net, are:

1.    Protect your home with smoke alarms
2.    Take extra care in the kitchen
3.    Check your electrics
4.    Smoke safely (if you must smoke at all)
5.    Sleep safely
6.    Plan a safe escape

Road users and pedestrians are also being reminded to stay safe if they’re out and about on Friday night. Traffic collisions make up a significant proportion of all incidents dealt with by West Midlands Fire Service.

Tips for staying safe on the move:
 
•    any amount of alcohol affects your judgement, coordination and ability to drive, so it’s best not to drink and drive at all
•    if you’re going out for a drink, nominate a designated driver who won’t drink alcohol, use public transport or a pre-ordered taxi, or stay over with family or friends
•    drive appropriately for the road conditions, with seatbelts on and lights if need be
•    stick to speed limits – they give you thinking and braking time
•    pedestrians: be aware of what’s happening around you at all times, especially when crossing the road
•    pedestrians and cyclists: make sure you can be seen – wear bright and reflective clothing; check that your bike lights are working.   

More safety advice is available in the ‘Stay safe’ section of the brigade’s website: www.wmfs.net/content/stay-safe. Useful information is also issued via the @WestMidsFire Twitter account.

Ends

On Twitter we’re @WestMidsFire

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