By Andrew Topping, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service says it has plans to continue an “effective service” in the event firefighters go on strike.
Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted 88 per cent in favour of industrial action on Monday (January 30) following a dispute over pay.
The Government and the National Employers, which set firefighters’ salaries, had offered a five per cent pay increase.
It followed an earlier two per cent rise, with both offers rejected by the union.
A meeting will be held on February 8 to determine the next steps and the FBU hopes an increased pay offer will arrive at this meeting.
However, if no offer is received, union bosses will decide on the next steps – including potential dates for a walk-out.
The union has confirmed fire crews would leave picket lines and return to work in the event of major incidents.
But its East Midlands branch secretary says firefighters hope it doesn’t “get to that point”.
Now Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has said plans are already in place to ensure any industrial action does not lead to disruption.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mick Sharman said: “Due to the ongoing national dispute over pay, we have been preparing for how we can still deliver an effective service to our communities during any periods of industrial action.
“These plans are now at an advanced stage and we are ready to enact them should industrial action be taken.”
No details of the plans have yet been confirmed by the fire service but further information is expected if industrial action is agreed upon.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Tuesday (January 31), an FBU spokesperson said firefighters want a pay settlement “somewhere close to inflation”.
The current 40-year inflation rate is above 10 per cent.
Mark Stilwell, East Midlands FBU branch secretary, said: “Our plan is to give employers as much time as possible to come up with a solution before we have to take any industrial action.
“We need to get an offer that is acceptable to the membership. I can’t put a figure on it but it has to be something close to inflation.
“The resounding ballot and a mandate from membership mean we’re in a strong position.”
He admitted a walk-out “would cause disruption” but said the FBU has agreed firefighters would return from picket lines to respond to major incidents.
“There’s always going to be disruption but this will be minimised,” he added.
“However, we don’t want it to get to that point.”
If firefighters do go on strike, it will be the first time they have walked out over pay since 2003.
A separate strike, in 2014, was held following disputes over the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme.
Trainee firefighters in Nottinghamshire currently earn £24,191 upon starting the role, rising to £32,244 when fully qualified.
Crew manager salaries are capped at £35,747, while watch managers and station managers earn a maximum of £39,974 and £45,861 respectively.
The Government has urged firefighters not to walk out, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson saying it would be “disappointing and concerning for the public”.
Cllr Nick Chard (Con), chair of the National Employers, added: “Our dedicated fire and rescue staff are rightly held in high regard by the public for their tireless efforts to help save lives and prevent fires.
“A pay award needs to strike the right balance between providing a well-deserved pay rise for fire and rescue employees and ensuring affordability for all UK services.
“The National Employers remain committed to resolving this dispute through discussion and talks with the employees’ representatives are ongoing.”