HALTON firefighters walked out at 9am today in their longest strike so far in a long running dispute over pensions.

Crews in Runcorn and Widnes are joining forces with colleagues across the country for the 24-hour stoppage.

Another strike starts at 9am on Sunday, June 22.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the government's proposals were "unfair and unaffordable".

There have already been 12 walk-outs.

The government plans to raise firefighters' retirement age from 55 to 60 and increase their pension contributions.

The FBU fears many firefighters could fail the fitness tests required to remain on active duty in their late 50s, and therefore have to leave the service.

The government said the deal on offer was fair.