London firefighters have voted to strike, with the ballot returning a majority of 3,482 in favour of action to 943 against. In a statement, the FBU has said that the vote took place following a letter by London Fire Brigade Commissioner Ron Dobson which, according to the union, began the process of sacking the capital's 5557 uniformed and 41 non-operational firefighters.

Fire Brigades Union General Secretary Matt Wrack said: "This is a huge vote for strike action. Firefighters hate going on strike - but they hate being bullied even more. This vote demonstrates that London firefighters will fight these mass sackings every step of the way. London Fire Brigade now needs to lift the sacking notices and start negotiating properly."

FBU Executive Member for London Ian Leahair said: "We are holding off announcing strike dates for 24 hours in order to give London Fire Brigade a last chance to do the sensible thing and withdraw the letters of dismissal so we can return to negotiating on the question of shift patterns."

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority has responded to the result of the ballot. Chairman of the Authority, Brian Coleman said: "It's disappointing and saddening that the only losers in all of this will be firefighters. A strike by the FBU will be unnecessary, unjustified and viewed unsympathetically by Londoners. This dispute centres on proposed changes to make people safer."

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: "Our contingency plans will of course now move forward to ensure the capital is protected during any period of strike action by the FBU."