EIGHT more days of firefighters strikes started today as crews across walked out nationwide due to the bitter dispute with the government over pensions.

Firemen from East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services have gone to the picket lines after Penny Mordaunt, the recently appointed under-secretary of state at the Department for Communities and Local Government, cancelled last minute talks on Thursday.

Union bosses said her cancellation made ongoing strikes "inevitable". Strikes will take place each day from today August until next Saturday between 12pm and 2pm and between 10.59pm and 11.59pm.

Andy Dark, FBU Assistant General Secretary, said: “Government proposals as they stand include a number of unacceptable elements including firefighters being forced to work until 60 – an age at which the enormous physical demands of the job are beyond most of us.

“Both sides have identified that there are possible solutions to these issues but the Government is unwilling to amends its proposals. “Firefighters hate striking. We believe that Winston Churchill was right to say ’Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.’

“That is why we are astounded by the cancellation of the last-minute talks by Ms Mordaunt on Thursday.

“It is a bitter disappointment that she cancelled them and made this series of strikes inevitable.”

A spokesman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue said: "We have contingency plans in place and continue to respond to emergencies during the strike, using professional crews made up of non-FBU members and retained firefighters.

"We will still respond to emergencies, prioritising where lives are at risk, but cover will be reduced.

"Our message to members of the public during the strike remains the same. If you have a fire - get out, stay out and dial 999. We will respond.

"Because our emergency cover is reduced during the strike, we are also urging members of the public to do what they can to prevent incidents and stay safe."