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‘Bonfire nights will be safe despite firefighters’ strike’
FIREFIGHTERS will strike in the coming days as fireworks celebrations take place in the county.
All of the FBU’s 400 members in Oxfordshire who are on duty are expected to walk out between 6.30pm and 11pm on Friday and between 6am and 8am on Monday.
The strike by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has been called over concerns about changes to conditions which could see firefighters work until they are 60 and force them out of work if they fail a fitness test.
Fire chiefs are urging people to go ahead with fireworks events on Friday night – and say events over the weekend should also still take place.
Chief fire officer Dave Etheridge said: “Our approach towards those who are having bonfire celebrations is that these events are always very well-organised in Oxfordshire.
“They always have marshals and competent people in charge and we see no reason why these celebrations shouldn’t go ahead.
“The vast majority will be on Saturday night, but we are aware of some taking place on Friday, and we would certainly be able to provide a response to these locations should there be a need for us to do so.”
He said: “What I can say with absolute confidence is that Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be able to respond to every single emergency call during this action.
“The clear message is during the strike period people should make sure they have a working smoke alarm, make sure they test it, have a fire plan and know how to leave their home.
“We would also urge people on the roads to drive a slower to give themselves a bit more thinking time.”
Oxford’s annual fireworks display in South Park will go ahead on Saturday, but its organiser Jason Priest joined Mr Etheridge in encouraging those events planned for Friday to still take place.
Fireworks going ahead on Friday include the 22nd Oxford Sea Scouts display in Meadow Lane, Oxford, and an RAF Brize Norton event.