CFO phil loachWest Midlands' Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach has praised decision taken by several of his firefighters to remain in operation at the scene of a serious fire, in spite of the start of industrial action.

The latest strike by firefighters took place during the hour up to midnight on Tuesday (12 Aug), during which West Mids had 12 fire engines, plus two acting as Brigade Response Vehicles with a crew of three and one actual BRV available to deploy.

When the industrial action started, six fire engines and some 30 firefighters were already at a severe fire in a shop with accommodation above on Warwick Road in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

The crews which had originally responded took the decision to remain at the incident and not to join the strike which started at 22.59pm.

Commenting on the actions of those firefighters CFO Loach said: "I would like to place on record my thanks and appreciation to those involved, and to recognise the professionalism demonstrated.

"We must remind ourselves that this situation is a national pensions dispute with the Government, which continues to present local West Midlands firefighters with some difficult decisions.
"In spite of this, last night’s actions clearly showed a willingness to put dispute-related frustrations to one side and to focus on the serious job in hand. It underlined our staff’s ongoing commitment to keeping the communities of the West Midlands safe.
"The first firefighting appliance arrived at the incident in just over five minutes and crews adopted assertive, safe and effective fire-fighting tactics which prevented more extensive damage to the row of buildings involved. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. These circumstances, which occurred prior to the strike action, should serve to remind us of the importance of maintaining the resources that make up the West Midlands Fire Service response model. Despite having business continuity plans in place during the strike periods, any significant incidents would test our resilience and these arrangements are a long way from ‘business as usual’.
"I am proud of those involved, who dealt with the incident in this way. It reflects the professionalism, integrity and excellence in service delivery that I encounter on a daily basis throughout West Midlands Fire Service."

During the strike West Mids also deployed resilience crews to two other incidents - petrol on the road in Walsall, and a false alarm in Erdington.

Continued strikes by firefighters in their dispute with the Government over pensions are due to take place from 12-2pm and  later today.