Firefighters in York have voted unanimously to ballot for county-wide strike action in protest at the controversial sacking of a colleague.

Others around the county are now to be asked to join in the first industrial action among North Yorkshire's emergency services for more than three years.

Fire Brigade Union (FBU) leaders fear the sacking will set a dangerous precedent which could lead to other firefighters being forced from their jobs.

The union is furious about a "hideous procedure" under which the unnamed leading fireman from Scarborough will be sacked on December 10.

The fireman, who has been off work for three years because of work-related stress, will be dismissed under the capability clause of his contract meaning the illness made him unable to carry out his job.

Despite being a fire-fighter for 18 years, his pension would be frozen until he is 60.

Firefighters now want the county's chief fire officer, Eric Clark, to back down and withdraw the sacking notice.

Regional FBU chairman Terry Allison said: "Our members were out in the streets working non-stop to protect people's property during the floods, and now they are being treated like this.

Firefighters met with regional union leaders who are banned from fire brigade property in the county outside the Clifford Street fire station last night.

One fire-fighter said: "The facts in this case are largely irrelevant if we don't stand up now we will sign all our rights away."

Mick Headon, the FBU's regional treasurer, said the case was being watched by brigades around the country and could set a national precedent.

It is expected that ballot forms will be sent out on Monday, and if industrial action is approved by union members, one or two-hour strikes could take place in January.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they would not discuss individual cases.