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Fire Dispute

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Royal Navy (a) ships and (b) personnel are being diverted from other operational tasks to ensure their availability for fire fighting duties in the event of a firefighter strike; and if he will make a statement. [99851]

Almost 3,300 Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel were used on fire-fighting duties during the last fire-fighters strike. A significant number of personnel used were taken from ships and submarines undergoing periods of refit or maintenance or which had returned from operational deployments and were not programmed to undergo further deployments. Only two of the ships from which personnel had for fire-fighting duties were prevented from undertaking operational tasks.With the exception of 330 people currently undergoing training, the individuals used for fire-lighting have now returned to their units where, whilst remaining on standby for fire-fighting duties, they have resumed their normal duties. As the Honourable Member will appreciate, the Royal Navy's involvement in fire-fighting duties has not prevented the deployment of a substantial Task Force to the Gulf.