Anger at plan for ‘amateur firefighters’

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FIRE service bosses are recruiting a team of strike-breaking amateur firefighters because of fears professional crews will take industrial action next month.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have posted job adverts for “community response officers” and “drivers/pump operatives” who will be called out to serious fires and car crashes if firefighters across the county go out on strike in September.

But officials from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say the plans are dangerous and will

David Williams, the union’s divisional secretary for West Yorkshire, said the recruitment drive had been launched because the fire service could no longer rely on the army to cover in the event of a strike as they had in the past.

He said: “This will put lives at risk for both the inexperienced crews going out to incidents and the people involved in fires and accidents.

“Members of the public are not daft and they know they will not be getting the same level of protection as they would be from professional firefighters.

“Well-meaning members of the public who respond to this will not be the same as professional firefighters who have had years of training. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid but I couldn’t pop a glass bowl on my head and go into space.”

Job adverts posted on the fire service’s website read: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is inviting applications to help keep the communities of West Yorkshire safe in the event of a strike by firefighters. Currently the Fire Brigades Union are balloting their members for potential industrial action which may take place on or after September 6.”

The adverts call for both firefighters and people to drive fire engines, and say respondents will be trained in “basic firefighting techniques.” The jobs pay £10 per hour for training and £150 for a 12 hour operational shift.

The FBU and the government are in dispute over pension reform. Community firefighters have been recruited in Cleveland and Manchester.

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