Published: 00:01, 14 July 2014 |
Updated: 10:25, 14 July 2014
Hundreds of firefighters at stations across Kent are beginning their first eight-day strike today in a dispute about pensions.
Crews are joining in national action, called by the Fire Brigades Union, that will see them leave their posts for several hours each day from 6am today until Monday, July 21.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service said it is making "contingency plans", but is urging the public to be extra cautious to avoid fires or emergencies.
Firefighters around the county are supporting the industrial action, which follows a ballot of FBU members by the union.
They are angry the new Public Services Pensions Act means them having to contribute more to their pension schemes, which they will not be able to claim until they are 60, instead of 55.
The strike dates are:
It is the latest in a series of fire crew walkouts - including as part of a national day of action by public sector workers last Thursday.
Kent FBU secretary Mark Simmons said: "We do not accept that it is appropriate or safe to require our members to work to the age of 60."
KFRS director of operations Sean Bone-Knell said during an earlier walkout: "We have been working hard to make sure we have the best emergency cover we can for this series of strikes.
"Staff who are not striking will be based at locations around the county to provide the best cover possible."
But KFRS is not saying exactly where the appliances will be based, other than at "strategic locations".
Fire crews' tips for strike safety
Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every floor of your home and test them regularly
Unplug any unused electrical items before you go out and don't overload electric sockets
Avoid leaving electrical items running, such as the washing machine or tumble dryer, while you're away from home
Don't leave any cooking unattended, especially if you've been drinking alcohol or are on medication
Avoid using candles and don't leave them burning if you are not in the room
Drive carefully and wear a seatbelt
If you are out walking, stick to safe areas and avoid water and deep mud where you may get into difficulties
Avoid having bonfires
For more safety advice, visit www.kent.fire-uk.org or call 0800 923 7000.
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