Search and rescue group give Surrey fire strike cover

Trained fire crews from a private firm in Surrey will be providing cover when firefighters go on strike next week.

Surrey County Council already has a contract with Specialist Group International to provide equipment and teams for specialist rescues.

The council said the Dorking firm would provide trained crews on 25 September.

SCC said Surrey would still have fewer crews that day and urged people to take extra care. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) declined to comment.

The council said Specialist Group International, a forensic search and rescue company, would work alongside firefighters who chose not to strike and on-call firefighters during the industrial action.

It said the firm's crews had completed the full 17-week firefighters' training course, which included firefighting, using breathing apparatus and using special equipment to deal with car crashes.

Pensions dispute

Councillor Kay Hammond, cabinet member for fire and police services, said: "We're ready to provide cover during this dispute between the FBU and government."

Residents and businesses have been urged to check smoke detectors and emergency equipment ahead of the four-hour strike.

The industrial action follows a dispute between the FBU and the government over pensions.

The government has offered to release full pensions to firefighters when they reach the age of 60, but the FBU has said it is "ludicrous" to expect firefighters to fight fires and rescue families in their late 50s.

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