FIREFIGHTERS are set to strike tonight (Christmas Eve) as part of their protracted battle over pensions with the Government.
Fire crews across Dudley borough and Sandwell will walk out between 7pm and midnight.
Fire Brigade Union General Secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “Firefighters on duty over the festive period don’t have much to celebrate this year and tonight’s strikes will remind the government of the service we provide 24 hour a day, 365 days a year, every year of our careers.
“Nobody wants these strikes but firefighters remain extremely angry over the prospect of being priced out of their pensions and facing the sack owing to the government’s ludicrous pretence that men and women of 60 can meet the same fitness standards as 20 year olds.
“The Government at Westminster has acknowledged our concerns but not done anything to seriously address them, so we welcome the chance to meet the government and hope this afternoon’s meeting provides a genuine dialogue.”
Further strikes are scheduled between 6.30pm on Tuesday, December 31 and 12.30am on Wednesday, January 1 and 6.30am and 8.30am on Friday, January 3.
As families and friends prepare to travel, visit and celebrate on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, WMFS is urging them to make safety a top priority and do all they can to reduce the risks of fire or being in a road accident.
West Midlands Fire Service's response area commander Paul Burnham said: “This is a very busy time of year for lots of people, when their minds are on so many things and safety can slip down the list.
“We’re working hard to provide the maximum cover possible during the three strike periods."
He added: "However, we won’t have our usual level of resources available, so we do really do need people to put safety first and remember our Festive 5 tips for a safe Christmas and New Year.
“We’ll be providing all the protection we can with the staff we have available during the strikes - but this will be a reduced service. We’re also asking people to take extra care during the strike periods, whether they’re at home or out and about. Vigilance and common sense can make the difference between needing to call 999 or not.”