The Northamptonshire Fire & rescue service has said it is “confident” that it will be able to provide an emergency response service to people in the county if a planned firefighter strike goes ahead.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) announced yesterday that 78 per cent of its members had voted to go on strike in a dispute over changes to their pensions.
No date has yet been set for the strike but the ballot could lead to the first walkout by firefighters in more than a decade.
A statement released by the county council said it was a “testing time” for the UK Fire and Rescue Service, but said the county council and fire service were taking every precaution to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
Northamptonshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Martyn Emberson said: “This is a national dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the government.
“Although our hope is that a resolution can be reached as quickly as possible, we respect the right of staff to take part in this industrial action and have therefore been working on our contingency plans.
“This includes working in partnership with our neighbouring authorities to ensure we have the right resources in place to be able to continue to provide an emergency response in the event of strike action.
“This is a testing time for fire and rescue services across the country, but we are taking every precaution to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum. And as usual, we would remind the public to only call 999 in an emergency.
“Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service remains committed to saving life, protecting property and the environment in order to reduce risk within the county’s communities.”
Councillor André Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said “robust” contingency plans were in place, but did not give any details of what they were.
He said: “We hope this issue is resolved quickly, but in the meantime we do have a legal duty to provide an emergency service to the people of Northamptonshire.
“Therefore I would like to reassure everyone that robust contingency plans are in place, and we will make every effort to ensure any disruption is minimised so that we can continue to protect our local communities.”