A MAN was pulled to safety from his smoke-filled Southampton flat by firefighters during organised strike action.

Engines from St Mary’s and Eastleigh stations were rushed to the scene at Ventnor Court, Swaythling.

The fire crews were alerted after a smoke alarm went off, and arrived to find the flat full of smoke.

The door was unlocked and firefighters burst inside before pulling the man, thought to be in his 60s, out of the premises.

A Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said that the fire began just before 11pm on Sunday. He added: “We literally pulled him out.

“We got there and the flat was full with smoke and he was on the settee, so we got in the flat quickly and pulled him out.”

The fire was caused by a cigarette and the man was taken to hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.

The 12 firefighters used breathing apparatus, a hose reel jet and a fan to put out the flames and get the smoke out of the flat.

The fire crews left the scene at about 12.15am on Monday after making sure the area was safe.

Firefighters are carrying out strike action in dispute over pensions, walking out for two hours at noon and one hour from 11pm daily until Saturday.

The Fire Brigade Union is locked in a row with the Government over pension changes, which it says will mean firefighters have to work longer and receive lower pensions when they do retire.

The service had vowed to put contingency plans in place, including the use of contract staff, while fewer engines will be available during strike hours.

Gary Jackson, Isle of Wight secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, (FBU) praised the response of the crews.

He said: “The original time of call was just prior to strike time. FBU members did attend the incident and acted in a professional manner to carry out rescues and extinguish the fire before proceeding on strike.”

Staff at Ventnor Court, a sheltered and retired housing complex, declined to comment on the incident.