A COMPETITION to find the best of the best among the nation’s firefighting teams has been cancelled because they will be on strike.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was due to host this year’s event, the biggest ever, at Essex University but now all the work has been wasted.

A spoeksman for the UK Rescue Organisation Challenge said: “Due to the ongoing dispute between the Fire Brigades’ Union and Government and further industrial action planned over the weekend of the challenge many teams would be unable to attend which makes the event unviable.

“These circumstances are out of the control of UKRO and ECFRS.

“This is of course highly disappointing not only to all those involved with the organisation but to all the teams and volunteers who have prepared and advanced their skills tirelessly as well as our sponsors.

“We sincerely hope to be able to announce something soon regards a new date but at present we are unable to do so.”

The event normally involves rope, urban search and rescue, water and trauma challenges.

This year, for the first time, there was due to be a toughest young firefighter challenge.

The strikes, over pension and retirement age, will take place every day from this Saturday to Saturday, August 16 from noon to 2pm and 10.59pm to 11.59pm.

A spokesman for ECFRS said: “The challenge is a major event in the fire service calendar and we were looking forward to hosting teams from 38 fire services from across the UK and Europe here in Essex.

"A great deal of work had gone into preparing for the games and it was a not only a coup for Essex to host the games but also a fantastic opportunity for crews from fire services nationwide to demonstrate the skill, professionalism and dedication they bring to saving lives every day.

“The decision to cancel the games was not taken lightly, but in the face of such uncertainty the service felt that it was no longer viable to continue with the event.”