For the first time in a quarter of a century, Britain?s 50,000 full-time paid firefighters went on strike today in the first of a series of forty-eight-hour work stoppages the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has promised over the current government?s refusal to meet wage demands. With a basic wage of less than $33,000 a year, the firefighters---many of whom have to work second jobs to support their families---are demanding a forty percent raise to $46,000 a year, and have called the ?New Labor? Party leadership?s offer of an eleven percent wage in return for concessions on work rules an insult. While FBU General Secretary Andy Gilchrist has said that members would return to work in the event of a ?catastrophic incident? such as a terrorist attack, he has made it clear that for the next two days only members of the armed forces using aging military firefighting equipment will be responding to calls.