South Yorkshire fire chiefs issue warning ahead of Bonfire Night

Barn fire at Sycamore Farm, Whitley Road Grenoside
Barn fire at Sycamore Farm, Whitley Road Grenoside

Fire chiefs are urging people to avoid holding bonfires and firework displays before the weekend – to avoid them coinciding with firefighters taking strike action.

The industrial action is planned for Friday, November 1, and fire chiefs are worried there could be a lack of cover if bonfire and firework displays are held early.

South Yorkshire Fire Service bosses have admitted the ‘emergency response service will be severely reduced on Friday night’ when firefighters walk out between 6.30pm and 11pm as part of a national day of action called by the Fire Brigades Union.

Chief Fire Officer Jamie Courtney said he wants fire engines to be kept available for life-threatening calls only during the strikes.

He said: “Don’t hold your bonfire or fireworks display on Friday night.

“We’re satisfied with the contingency arrangements we are putting in place, but our 999 service will still be severely depleted so we need the public to help keep our fire engines available for real emergencies.

“Our best advice is to either attend an organised, public event or hold your display on another night, following all of our usual advice to make sure bonfires don’t get out of control and incidents are kept low.

“The top tips for staying safe this bonfire period are attending a public display instead; storing fireworks securely and out of reach of children and following the instructions on the box.

“If you do hold your own firework display, keep bonfires and fireworks well away from buildings, sheds and trees.

“The best way to stay safe is to make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and test them weekly.”

A second strike is planned between 6am and 8am on Monday, November 4, in an ongoing dispute over pensions.

Firefighters are unhappy at being made to pay more into their pension pots and for longer, and they claim jobs are being put at risk because of a lack of positions available for ageing firefighters deemed unfit for the frontline.

Firefighters all over the country staged a walk-out last month in the dispute, forcing fire bosses to recruit and train a team of contingency firefighters to man fire appliances.

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