Essex fire service strike talks continue

Each side is accusing the other of putting public safety at risk.

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Fire crews in Essex have begun a 24-hour strike as talks aimed at halting the action continued.

The third walkout by members of the Fire Brigades Union started at 09:00 BST.

Essex Fire Service said "resilience arrangements" were in place, with a combination of retained and working firefighters covering the county.

Talks between the fire service and union to resolve the dispute started at 10:00 BST.

Hundreds of firefighters marched through Chelmsford ahead of a union rally.

More strikes planned

BBC Essex reporter James Waterhouse, who followed the march, said: "They are chanting 'no more cuts', blowing whistles, banging a drum and making plenty of noise.

"They're being given a police escort through the city. People are mainly standing by and watching them go through but there are a few toots of horns from passing motorists."

The march, which started at Admiral's Park, ended with a rally at Central Park.

Crews were called to five false alarms in the first four hours of the stoppage.

The first eight-hour walkout in June was followed by an hour-long walkout earlier this month.

Further strikes are planned for 18 August and 18 October.

The union claimed Essex will have lost one in five front-line firefighters since 2008 if planned cuts go ahead.

The fire service said it had made a number of concessions, including promising there will be no redundancies.

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