A thatched property in Wiltshire was badly damaged last night during the firefighters' strike. Eight Wiltshire fire crews attended the blaze at Fyfield, near Pewsey at 5.45pm yesterday. But a very strong wind caused the flames to spread rapidly throughout the roof and first floor.
Area Manager Julian Parsons said: 'The industrial action by members of the Fire Brigades’ Union had an impact on where the supporting appliances came from.
'But the initial attendance was close to what we would normally expect, with the crew from Marlborough being on scene within 14 minutes of the 999 call being received – our response target for such a remote location is 20 minutes.'
Firefighters from Hampshire and Berkshire have finished their two-hour morning strikes at 8am this morning.
Royal Berkshire Fire Service received four calls during the Fire Brigades Union between 6am and 8am and none of these required the attendance of a fire engine.
Andy Mancey, Berkshire Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: “Once again, we would like to thank members of the public in helping us by not calling us unnecessarily. There were nine appliances available this morning in the event that any incidents occurred.”
Hampshire Assistant Chief Officer Bob Ratcliffe said: "We dealt with relatively few incidents during the strike periods and we would like to thank all members of our communities for taking extra care during the recent industrial action."
During the strike by the Fire Brigades' Union between 6am and 8am this morning, Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service attended no incidents.
The service had 12 appliances available and a further three 'on call', however on an average day the Service would expect to have around 24 appliances available.
My thanks go to those staff who made themselves available to maintain an emergency response across the county – fortunately, we had just one false alarm during the first strike and no incidents this morning. While we were quiet, it was imperative that our communities could be sure that 999 calls were responded to quickly, and I am very proud that we were able to keep such a good level of fire cover throughout both periods of action."
The second strike by firefighters in four days is now underway across the south. The walkout, which began at 6 this morning, is part of a long running dispute with the government over pensions and plans to raise their retirement age from 55 to 60. Fire services say contingency plans are in place.
The Fire Brigades Union has praised fire fighters for their unity and determination during last night's strike. Fire fighters across England and Wales walked out on strike between 6.30pm and 11pm in the dispute about pensions.
FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack said: 'Fire fighters have once again shown their determination to defend their pension rights and to campaign for a pension which reflects the job they do. We hope government will now sit down and negotiate a settlement to this dispute.'
Fire services across the Meridian region say they were not greatly affected by industrial action by fire fighters last night. Although there were fewer fire appliances on call, fire services say they were able to deal with incidents.
Hampshire - 41 fire appliances crewed by retained fire fighters, about half the usual number. Service's 20-minute response time to emergencies was maintained.
Wiltshire - 18 appliances on duty instead of 24. Crews attended just one incident across the county - an overheated plug socket in Swindon.
Berkshire - 10 appliances available instead of average of 15. Four calls received, only one of which required the brigade’s attendance. This was a small fire in a garden in Humber Way, Owlsmoor, which was out on arrival.
Further strikes are scheduled between 6am and 8am on Monday.
Fire brigades across the country have urged people to put off any firework displays in their gardens tonight and to switch it to Saturday, or to go to an organised event as firefighters go on strike in a row over pensions.
London Fire Brigade said today was likely to be one of the busiest days of the year for the fire service, ahead of Guy Fawkes Night and Diwali celebrations and urged people to attend organised displays.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson called on people not to put themselves at risk by lighting fireworks and bonfires tonight as only serious emergencies will be attended to by a contingency fire and rescue service during the strike.
The Fire Brigades Union said it has timed the strikes so that celebrations on Bonfire Night and the Saturdays before and after November 5 - the most popular times for firework displays - can take place.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said its emergency response service would be "severely reduced" because of the strike.