FIRE service bosses have pledged to do everything possible to keep people safe during the latest round of firefighter strikes starting this weekend.
Crews will walk out between 12noon and 2pm and 10.59pm until 11.59pm over eight days from this Saturday, August 9, until the following Saturday, August 16.
Members of the Fire Brigades Union are in dispute with the Government over pension reforms they claim will mean firefighters having to tackle blazes up to the age of 60.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that a government can impose a scheme which means that firefighters will have to ride engines and rescue people from fires up to age 60.
“This is unsafe and unrealistic for both firefighters and the public.
“We know it, and the public knows it, but the government will not listen to the evidence-based case we have made to them.”
A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said it has a legal duty to maintain a level of service as best it can.
He added: “We will continue to respond to 999 calls and will do everything we can to keep the public safe, including during any national fire strike.
“People can help us by taking extra care and time to think about fire safety in their home during this period - checking smoke alarms, ensuring you know what you would do if there was a fire and not making unnecessary calls to the fire and rescue service.
“Businesses are also reminded to be mindful of their responsibilities, as during periods of industrial action the service may not be able to respond to fire safety enquiries within its usual timescales.”
The new Fire Minister, Penny Mordaunt, said her respect for firefighters and their work is her “motivation in office”.
She added: “This will not be altered or diminished by strikes or the threat of strikes.
“The action by the FBU is completely futile and counterproductive to the interests of their members and the public. I hope they will soon realise that and re-engage so we can get this situation swiftly resolved.”
*Meanwhile, council and school staff across the country plan to escalate their strike action over pay, with another day of industrial action on Tuesday, October 14.
It follows a previous mass walkout on July 10.