Firefighters saw in the new year on strike in an ongoing row over pensions – and have threatened to walk out again later in the week.
Crews walked out at 6.30pm yesterday, and were due to return at 12.30am today.
They are due to take further strike action on Friday, between 6.30am and 8.30am.
The industrial action is over government plans for firefighters to pay more into their pension pots and for firefighters to be expected to work until they are 60.
The move has left some fearing they will lose their jobs if they are deemed physically unfit for frontline duties.
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “None of us wanted these strikes.
“However, firefighters on duty over the festive period don’t have much to celebrate this year as they are being priced out of their pensions and face the sack because the Government can’t accept that 60-year-old men and women can’t meet the same fitness standards as 20-year-olds.
“We need to see genuine dialogue and real negotiations to resolve this dispute.
“Perhaps the Prime Minister would like to come to visit firefighters and hear directly why they are so angry.
“Firefighters do not want to place the public at risk, and support on the picket lines suggests the public understands we cannot stand by and let this pension theft continue.
“It’s time the Government came back with a realistic offer instead of the unworkable proposals they continue to peddle.”
The union says most firefighters who take home about £1,650 a month already pay £320 or more a month into their pensions, and from April 2014 this would rise for the third year in a row to more than £340 a month – £4,000 a year – with many facing a fourth consecutive rise of 2.2 per cent in 2015.
It also claims there is evidence to show two thirds of all firefighters could struggle to meet the fitness standards required by the fire service beyond the age of 55.