The FBU says the move to driver-only trains could compromise the information gathering process when firefighters are called to emergencies on train lines. They say it is often the guards who provide vital first-hand information to fire crews.
Mark Rowe, regional secretary of the FBU in the North West, said:
“Firefighters recognise and understand the dangers that driver-only trains can pose to rail travellers. If the fire service is called out to an emergency on the tracks, it is the guards who provide us with intelligence on arrival, who have moved passengers to safe areas and kept them calm. This helps firefighters do their job effectively and efficiently.
“Firefighters have seen their numbers cut by nearly a quarter nationally since 2010. This means there are fewer firefighters and fire engines that are immediately available. Response times have also slowed as a consequence of station closures so the role of the guard in providing that initial assistance is even more important now than ever before.
“Every passenger needs the assurance that their journey will be safe and secure with trained assistance available if and when it is needed. Safety should not be the first victim when cutting costs. Firefighters fully support the RMT in their campaign to keep the guards. We would urge the government to listen.”
Mark Rowe of the Fire Brigades Union highlights the impact ASLEF’s betrayal will have on rail safety. The safety of customers and staff will be seriously compromised due to the lack of assistance available to emergency service personnel attending rail incidents. The safety critical trained guard/conductor/OBS performs the vital roles of both ensuring the safety of the customers prior to the arrival of the emergency services and once the emergency service personnel arrive at the incident site ensuring they are given the necessary first hand information to enable them to get on with saving lives.
The vital assistance that a second person on board a train provides to both the emergency service personnel who put their lives on the line at times of serious incidents, and to the disabled elderly and vulnerable during their rail journey highlights why ASLEF’s act of betrayal will have such serious repercussions for everyone involved in the rail industry.
It is essential that we bring our dispute to a successful conclusion so it is vital that the many leaders we have in our ranks, at both national and local level, rise to the challenge that ASLEF’s capitulation could have for our dispute.
We need to ensure that we put forward our arguments for continuing the dispute in a calm responsible fashion and keep the members fully involved in decision making and apprised of developments. We need to challenge the idea that giving up would provide a simple answer to our problems by explaining the damaging effect such a decision would have on our ability to influence our working conditions in the future along with the detrimental effect such a decision would have on Safety, Accessibility and Security on the network.
THIS IS NOT A TIME FOR CONTEMPLATING GIVING UP BUT FOR STANDING UP AND CONTINUING THE FIGHT TO ENSURE THERE IS A GUARANTEE OF A SECOND PERSON ON OUR TRAINS, WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
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