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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 13:12 GMT
Fire strike spreads travel woe
London traffic
Motorists are being urged to drive more carefully
Simon Montague

Motorists won't be able to rely on the same level of emergency service and should take extra care on the road during the firefighters strike.

That's the warning from the RAC motoring group, which warns that Army firefighters and their Green Goddess fire engines won't have the same skills or equipment to deal with road accidents.

"People should drive more carefully and carry a fire extinguisher as a matter of course" says the RAC.


Army fire engines don't carry specialised cutting or foam equipment for dealing with major pile-ups and fuel spillages

"The regular fire brigades have more skills in cutting people out of vehicles and clearing up after a smash."

Army fire engines don't carry specialised cutting or foam equipment for dealing with major pile-ups and fuel spillages.

The Department for Transport has warned that Army fire teams will take longer to reach crash scenes, and longer to put out fires and release people who are trapped in vehicles.

It is advising drivers to slow down, because it says speed is a major contributor to accidents.

Variable message signs on the motorway network will carry the message "Firefighter strike - Drive with extra care" on strike days.

Eurotunnel speeds ahead

Rail passengers seem unlikely to face travel trouble.

Train companies say the firefighters' strike won't cause "any significant disruption" to main line services.

The key reason is that fire evacuations from stations and trains are led by rail staff, not firefighters.

London Underground sign
Deep underground stations will close
Train companies and Railtrack say risk assessments show that the reduced cover provided by the Ministry of Defence fire teams "won't materially affect the level of risk".

A report from Railtrack's independent safety body says that stopping rail services and pushing passengers onto road transport would cause a significantly worse risk in transport safety terms, because people are more likely to die in road accidents.

At the Channel Tunnel, shuttle services between Folkestone and Calais look set to continue running normally.

Eurotunnel says it has "fully trained and certified to the satisfaction of the independent Channel Tunnel safety authority who can deal with any emergencies if necessary".

Underground disruption

Air passengers won't have to worry about strikes by members of the Fire Brigades Union - they don't cover Britain's main airports.

It's a different dispute which could hit air travel in a fortnight's time.

Firefighters and security staff who work for the airports company BAA are threatening to hold six 24-hour stoppages in a dispute over pay, beginning on 28 November.

The strike called by the Transport & General Workers Union threatens to close all of BAA's seven UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, causing flight chaos.


We regret any inconvenience these closures might cause, but the safety of customers and staff is our priority

Mike Strzeleck, London Underground
So it's tube commuters in London who'll face the brunt of transport disruption caused by the first firefighters strike.

London Underground is warning that 19 tube stations will have to close for safety reasons during the 48-hour stoppage.

London Underground says the lack of cover by the fire brigade creates "a potential risk" at deep level stations which are served only by lifts and don't have escalators.

Safety director Mike Strzelecki said: "We regret any inconvenience these closures might cause, but the safety of customers and staff is our priority."

The London Underground stations which will close are: Belsize Park, Borough, Caledonian Road, Chalk Farm, Covent Garden, Edgware Road (only Bakerloo Line station closed), Elephant & Castle, Gloucester Road (only Piccadilly line closed), Goodge Street, Hampstead, Holland Park, Holloway Road, Kennington, Lambeth North, Lancaster Gate, Mornington Crescent, Queensway, Regent's Park, Russell Square, Shadwell (closed in morning and evening rush hours) Tufnell Park and Wapping.


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Do you back the firefighters' strike?

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 4.07% 

No
 95.93% 

64332 Votes Cast

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