Fire union raises stand-in crews training fears

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) have strongly refuted claims by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) that the stand-in staff set to work during the next period of strike action are insufficiently trained in the use of breathing apparatus.

East Sussex firefighters have expressed grave concerns over an apparent lack of training – a worry that emerged during the last strike and has heightened after the ESFRS told local representatives of the FBU that stand-in staff have undertaken one day’s refresher training.

FBU East Sussex Chair Simon Herbert said, “Wearing breathing apparatus is one of the most hazardous activities that a firefighter can undertake and sending out crews that have not proved competence in the use of them is ludicrous.

“This contradicts national standards, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s own training standards and most of all simple common sense.”

Firefighters will again walk out across the country on Saturday, October 19 for five hours over ‘unsafe, unfair and unworkable’ pension proposals.

A statement from the ESFRS said, “We strongly refute any claims we are putting contingency crews at risk during ongoing strikes by members of the Fire Brigades Union.

“We invest £2 million every year in training and our contingency crews are made of experienced operational staff. All operational staff have to regularly update their training and qualifications.

“We have also carried out additional refresher training ahead of the industrial action by the FBU to be assured that our contingency crews are competent and well prepared.

“The need for contingency crews comes from our legal obligation to provide cover during FBU strikes. This is a dispute which only the FBU and Government have the power to resolve and we would repeat our hopes that this is resolved quickly.”