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FIRE HAZARD; Cover cut by 50% in strike.

Byline: JANE WOODHEAD & IAN FANNON

FIRE cover across Merseyside will be cut by half if a series of strikes go ahead, it was warned today.

Fire chief Tony McGuirk claims there will be increased danger to the public if unions vote in favour of strike action on Friday.

Twenty-four army Green Goddesses will be drafted in with 10 Navy and RAF rescue vehicles and a specialist rescue appliance which is used for car accidents. This is a drastic reduction in existing cover, which includes 42 fire engines and 20 specialist appliances covering 26 locations across the county.

Mr McGuirk said: ``I am extremely concerned about the public and we are putting arrangements in place to deal with the situation in the best way possible.''

If unions vote in favour of a strike, the first will take place on October 25.

Firefighters, who receive a salary of pounds 21,000, are demanding an annual income of pounds 30,000, equivalent to a 39% increase. They have been offered an interim rise of 4%.

Green Goddesses were used on Merseyside in July last year when there was an 11-day strike.

Fire safety advice is available on 0800 571 5958.

l HUYTON fire crews will be given police escorts for nonurgent calls in Stockbridge Village until after Bonfire Night in the wake of yob attacks. The move comes after firefighter Frank Hill was shot in the back with a ball-bearing gun.

A gang of 30 youths surrounded his fire engine and tried to steal equipment on Sunday night in Boode Croft, Stockbridge Village.

In non-urgent call-outs, fire crews will park up and wait for police CCTV vans to arrive before getting out.

Spokesman Alex McDougal, said: ``The attacks are increasing in number and ferocity and we think cameras in fire trucks would help protect our crews.''
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 16, 2002
Words:303
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