IN NOVEMBER 1977, Standard readers were provided with guidelines to minimise fire risks and be extra vigilant, as the fire service went on strike for the first time. 

The chief fire officer for Gloucestershire spoke to the paper about the situation. Although he could not condone strike action “in any shape or form,” his comments were quite sympathetic. 

“Without any doubt at all, the major reasons why, for the first time, the British fire service finds itself on strike, go back for a very long time,” Ken Harden explained.

“In all that time, firemen have received pay which has been below the national average.”

Many firemen had given loyal and dedicated service over many years, and they were certainly not habitual strikers, Mr Harden pointed out. 

Regardless, he was very concerned that attitudes would harden on both the government’s side and from the fireman’s union’s perspective. 

He said: “The attitudes may harden to such an extent that the whole country will be plunged into very great peril indeed.”

Mr Harden suggested that the government may find themselves in a better position if they were to consider payment for extra skills and weekend working.

With gloomy predictions about pay stagnation and concerns about rising living costs, many modern commentators may also feel more sympathy than usual towards the strikes of the 1970s.