With the next firefighters’ day of on-the-books inaction looming, Fire Minister Brandon Lewis has issued a list of precautions that many people wouldn’t have immediately thought of.
Top Government tips for the duration of industrial action include: Avoid taking lit birthday cakes to bed with you. Don’t let your man light his cigar when re-fuelling the Jag. And think twice before drying out damp fireworks in a gas oven.
“We’ve all done that haven’t we?” chuckled Mr Lewis, “Especially if we’ve some old fireworks left over from last 5th November, but probably best not-to this week.”
Lewis emphasised the public need not panic but instead take some imaginative precautions for the duration. “Say you’re planning to kick-start a barbecue or a bonfire using a gallon of super-unleaded. In field of dry stubble. Just next to a motorway. Fair enough and something we should all have the right to, I’m sure you’d agree. But there’s no need to throw all caution to the high winds: why not keep an emergency cup of Evian nearby, just in case?”
Even if there is a settlement to the dispute in the next few hours, the strike will still go ahead, says Union chief Matt Wrack. “A lot of the guys are looking forward to watching ‘Strictly’ at home, rather than in the mess room at the Station. Anyway, most of the others have already booked an extra shift on their second jobs and it wouldn’t be right to let those employers down; they’re depending on us.”
One thing on which firefighters, management and minister do all agree is that smoke alarms are a wise investment. “It’s sensible to ensure your alarm is in good working order”, said Lewis before adding further surprising advice. “However, now is not the time to do a proper test by starting a series of smallish fires in your house. Maybe wait until after the strike is over for that.”
“’Think safe, keep safe’ is our watchword … are our watchwords … does that work?” pondered the minister. “With that in mind, we’re also advising motorists against having a motorway pile-up for the next day or so; maybe leave them until the New Year.”
If Lewis’ campaign is successful, its ‘think-outside-the-box’ principles will be rolled out across other emergency services. Bumper stickers have already been drafted, with “Don’t get murdered – just say ‘No’.” and ‘Don’t have a stroke’ being the most popular with Conservative Central Office.