AS BONFIRE night and Diwali celebrations get underway across the county Staffordshire residents are being warned to take extra care and be mindful of the ongoing firefighters strike.
The first of two planned strikes will take place tonight between 6:30pm and 11pm, just as many members of the community are attending fireworks displays.
Director of response for Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Julian Hilditch said it was 'vital' people were aware of the industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union.
“In order to ensure your own safety and the safety of others, take precautions and think about potential hazards in the home, while on the roads and at Bonfire Night and Diwali celebrations.," he said. "I would urge people to only attend organised events which must adhere to strict guidelines and to refrain from holding their own fireworks activities.
"Taking simple steps could have life-saving consequences.”
Firefighters are also set to strike a second time during Monday's rush hour between 6am and 8am.
Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins urged residents to take precautions and be careful, especially around any bonfire night celebrations.
“The fire service has been planning for this action for several weeks and I am confident they are well prepared for both Friday and Monday.
“However, there will be significantly fewer crews and fire engines available, so it is essential we are all extra vigilant and take extra care to ensure these crews can focus on dealing with real 999 emergencies only," he said.
“As a county council, we have emergency plans in place and the most important thing is that we all keep safe at home and on the roads and I would ask people to keep their eyes open for neighbours who may need extra help."
He said he had been assured by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service robust contingency plans were in place ahead of the strike action and a reduced fleet of fire engines would be on standby for emergencies.
Firefighters and volunteers spent the days leading up to the strike giving out leaflets promoting safety messages and top tips for safety in the home and on the road.
The flyers and posters urge residents to follow six simple steps in the home:
•Protect your home with working smoke alarms
•Take extra care in the kitchen
•Check your electrics
•Plan a safe escape route in the event of an emergency
•Smoke safely – put smoking materials out properly and dispose of them carefully
•Make sure you sleep safely – a bedtime safety routine can reduce the risk of fire while you are asleep
The Service is also encouraging people to follow six simple steps on the road especially during Monday's rush hour when the second strike is set to occur:
•Reduce your speed
•Don’t use a mobile phone while driving
•Always wear a seatbelt
•Don’t drink and drive – and beware the morning after
•Watch out for cyclists and pedestrians
•Don’t drive while tired