FIREFIGHTERS are striking today (Thursday) across Halesowen and Sandwell.

The walkout is the latest in a national pensions dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the Government.

The strike is being held between 9am today and 9am tomorrow (Friday) and a seven-hour strike is also planned for 10am-5pm on Saturday, June 21.

Paul Burnham, area commander for response and resource management, said: “Although this is the first 24-hour strike in the national dispute, we’ll be implementing our tried and tested contingency arrangements to keep the West Midlands as safe as possible.

“Public safety is central to our plans, and 999 calls will still be answered as normal."

He added: "However, it won’t be ‘business as usual’, as we’ll be focusing all of our efforts on responding to emergencies using operational staff who aren’t striking.

"Our daily prevention, education and community work will have to be suspended for the duration of the strike."

And with the advent of the World Cup the fire chief is urging people to stay safe.

He said: “Lots of families and friends will be tuning in for the Brazil v Croatia game. If you’re travelling before or after the match, please don’t drink-drive.

“I’d like to make a direct appeal to pubs and entertainment venues hosting World Cup-related events to put staff and customer safety at the top of their list."