THE FIRST 24-hour strike of firefighters takes place today, with reduced services operating throughout the region.

Firefighters in England and Wales are striking again over attacks on their pensions after the government confirmed it would implement a new scheme without further negotiations.

The strike will start at 9am and last all day, with another set for Satruday, June 21 from 10am to 5pm.

In addition, between the two strikes firefighters will not carry out any voluntary overtime something the Fire Brigades Union claims is routinely needed by many fire and rescue services to maintain fire cover.

The decision to strike was made at a meeting of the FBU?s executive council on Wednesday 4 June after talks with the fire minister Brandon Lewis broke down.

People living and working in the Avon Fire and Rescue Service area are being urged to take extra care during the strikes as it runs a reduced service.

A skeleton service will operate from six strategic locations across the region, which will be covered by non-union members.

They will work alongside a number of auxiliary firefighters who have received training to provide basic support to fully qualified crews.

Because of the reduced capability to react to emergencies, the service will prioritise calls when there is a risk to life.

Chief fire officer Kevin Pearson said: "Although we have resilience plans in place during the strike, they are not a direct replacement for the service we normally provide.

“I would urge everyone to make every effort to reduce the risk of a fire starting in their home or business as we may take longer to reach you. Simple things like ensuring you do not leave cooking unattended, making sure you check smoke alarms are working and rehearsing escape routes with your family will certainly help you stay safer.

“Business owners and managers should also check their own fire risk assessments.”

General secretary of the union, Matt Wrack, said: "Concerns over these unworkable proposals remain as valid and grave as ever, and the government has ignored all the evidence including it's own reports.

"It is as ever a difficult decision for us to take, but the only way for us to resolve this unnecessary and costly dispute is for the government to start listening to reason."