A NINTH strike by firefighters passed without major incident in the north of the region this morning (Friday, January 3).

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) across the country walked out from 6.30am to 8.30am, as part of a long-running national dispute over pensions.

During the two-hour period, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) dealt with just one incident – a car fire near Spennymoor.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service also responded to one call – a two-car crash on the A19 near Doxford Park, Sunderland.

Stuart Errington, deputy chief fire officer at CDDFRS, said the brigade’s resilience plans had worked well again and thanked people for taking extra care during the industrial action.

“People are listening to our safety messages, taking sensible precautions and this is lowering the number of emergencies we are required to respond to,” he said.

But Mr Errington added: “We would strongly encourage the government and the FBU to continue talks and resolve their differences so that further industrial action can be avoided.”

His message was echoed by Tom Capeling, chief fire officer at Tyne and Wear.

FBU members also walked out for six hours on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day and several times during December, meaning today’s action took the total stoppages since September to nine.

Strikers have agreed to return to work in a major emergency, as firefighters in Kent and Surrey did on Christmas Eve to deal with storm-related floods and damage.

The FBU says government proposals will hurt older firefighters, while ministers say they are fair for both firefighters and the taxpayer.

No further strikes are currently scheduled.