Firefighters have walked out on strike for the weekend in their bitter row with the government over pensions. Members of the Fire Brigades Unionin England left their stations at 6pm on Friday and will not return until 6pm on Tuesday, the evening before Bonfire night.
Picket lines were mounted outside fire stations, and will continue throughout the next few days.
Fire brigades again launched contingency plans, including hiring contract staff to cover for striking firefighters, but the public were warned to be extra vigilant, especially if attending firework events.
The West Yorkshire brigade warned that the service and the public would be left in a vulnerable position, telling people to take extra care to ensure their own safety, while the London brigade said it might not attend rubbish or small grass fires or help anyone shut in a lift during the strike.
The FBU hit back at government statements that firefighters would continue to receive one of the best pension packages of any worker, even after changes to their pension scheme.
The union’s general secretary, Matt Wrack, said: “How can it be remotely fair that the prime minister, already a millionaire, enjoys a far greater subsidy from his employer in absolute and proportional terms than a firefighter who is earning less than £30,000 a year? It is sickening hypocrisy.”