Devon and Somerset Fire Service has issued a response to the threat of a strike by firefighters over pay. It follows a national ballot by the Fire Brigades Union in which 88% of the union's members voted in favour of strike action on a turnout of 73%.

In a statement, Devon and Somerset Fire Service said: "The Fire Brigades Union has balloted their members who have voted in favour of taking strike action. This is part of a national dispute between the pay negotiation body and the union over the annual pay award. We respect the right of staff to take industrial action."

They added: "We also expect all members of our Service to respect each other’s personal choices and continue to demonstrate our values. At this stage, we don’t know whether strike action will take place. And if the Fire Brigades Union does announce strike action, we don't know when or how it will take place. Some of our services could be disrupted, please read our safety advice to find out what you can do."

The FBU's Devon and Somerset Brigade Secretary James Leslie said: "We've got the mandate to strike. The ball is now in the employer's court. People are angry at the cut in pay over the last 12 years, it hasn't matched inflation."

"We won't be calling strikes for 10 days, but if there's no movement by the employer, there will be. There's a meeting on February 9, that will be the crux of it."

He added: "Iv'e got members talking about using food banks because they're struggling."

In a statement, the General Secretary of the FBU, Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters across the UK have spoken. The Fire Brigades Union has a decisive mandate for strike action. This is an overwhelming vote for strike action against an offer which would mean further significant cuts to real terms wages for firefighters and control room staff.

He added: "They have already lost at least 12% of the value of their pay since 2010. This is an absolute last resort for our members. The responsibility for any disruption to services lies squarely with fire service employers and government ministers."