Securitas to provide cover if Oxfordshire firefighters strike

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Security giant Securitas will provide emergency cover if Oxfordshire’s firefighters go on strike.

Securitas employees have been specifically trained to support the fire and rescue service and will be able to provide three full crews during any industrial action.

The announcement comes after Fire Brigades Union members voted by almost four to one in favour of a strike following a row over pensions.

As part of contingency planning, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service had been trying to secure a deal to allow workers to carry on doing life-saving activities during strike action, but the local union has so far refused to sign up to this.

However, in addition to the Securitas arrangement, an agreement has been reached between the service and the union to provide major incident cover for emergencies that need eight or more fire crews during potential strike action.

Councillor Rodney Rose, the county council’s deputy leader, has expressed his frustration at the ballot result.

He said: “It is a real disappointment that we haven’t been able to agree a way forward.

“I hope that this dispute can be resolved quickly and firefighters can get back to what they want and the public expects, which is to protect the community.

“At least here in Oxfordshire there has been strong forward planning to mitigate negative impacts of strike action.”

If there is a strike, cover will also be provided by staff not taking part, while control room workers will not be affected.

Chief fire officer David Etheridge said: “Oxfordshire residents should be reassured that we have been planning for some time to develop strong resilience arrangements, which provides me with the confidence to give the assurance that while this will not be our usual response standards that levels of fire cover will be in place for those who have to dial 999 during any strike.”

People have been urged to take extra care if there is a strike and visit the 365Alive website for advice.