Northern Ireland Fire Service seek 'special arrangements' to avoid calling in Army during strike

The majority of firefighters in Northern Ireland voted in favour of going on strike as part of an ongoing dispute over

The Fire Service in Northern Ireland has called for "special arrangements" to be made to prevent the need for the military to be deployed should the body's national strike action go ahead.It comes after 94% of firefighters in Northern Ireland voted in favour of going on strike as part of an ongoing dispute over pay.

As part of contingency plans in other parts of the UK, Fire Services have implemented plans to deploy the military to keep people safe during the potential strike action.

The Interim Chief of the NIFRS has asked the Fire Brigades Union Executive Council to consider allowing NI firefighters to respond "to certain categories of high-risk calls and negate the need for the use of the military" should the strikes proceed.

Andy Hearn said: “I recognise and fully respect the outcome of the ballot.

"I wholly support a pay increase for our Firefighters and absolutely recognise the right of Firefighters to participate in peaceful strike action," he added.

"However, as an organisation we have a legal responsibility to prepare for strike action and a legal responsibility to deliver our statutory duty in keeping people safe.

“Ahead of the Fire Brigades Union National Executive Council meeting next week, I am calling for all Council members to fully appreciate and recognise the unique circumstances here in Northern Ireland, and agree to special arrangements to negate the need for Military resources during any period of strike action.  

“Should agreement not be reached with the Fire Brigades Union Executive Council next week, a request for Military Aid to Civil Authority (MACA) will reluctantly remain a viable option to be progressed through further discussions with our sponsoring Department, the Department of Health (DOH). 

“I want to reassure the community in Northern Ireland that we are doing everything we can to resolve this national issue. 

"I am asking for the Fire Brigades Union to work with us in recognition of the unique situation in Northern Ireland and support us in doing what we can to help keep people safe during any strike period.”

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