HUNDREDS of firefighters across West Yorkshire will decide on strike action from Monday.
They will be taking part in a national ballot for action, called by the Fire Brigades' Union after the collapse of protracted pay talks.
If there is a `yes' vote, strike action could begin as early as September 7.
Firefighters are furious that their latest pay deal was not settled, having made concessions over working conditions over recent months.
They say the Government intervened in the talks, which had seemed destined for a settlement. The claim has been denied.
National fire service employers say there will be no more talks unless there is a `yes' vote.
The union was formally told yesterday that the employers did not intend to meet the union until the middle of September.
"Talks with the FBU cannot be resuscitated this side of the outcome of a ballot," said a spokesman for the employers' organisation.
"Whether talks will be started up again really depends on whether there is support within the FBU for discontinuous strike action through the ballot."
The FBU's assistant general secretary, Mike Fordham, said: "They don't want to meet unless there is a `yes' vote in the ballot. A ballot with a `yes' vote is the only way we can resolve this dispute and the employers have made this clear.
"The public should not be surprised at such a hard line, because the talks have been hijacked by those who want to wreck a deal."
Mr Fordham added: "They have made it clear they don't want to meet us unless we ballot and unless there is a `yes' vote."
Nick Sutcliffe, the union's West Yorkshire chairman, said: "It has certainly made firefighters in the county very, very angry."
FIREFIGHTERS stopped a rubbish fire spreading to a building.
A large pile of chipboard was set alight outside Hi-Visibility Ltd on Bradley Mills Road, Bradley Mills, at 7.10pm last night.
The company, based in Riverside Mill, makes kitchen cabinet doors.
* A stolen car was destroyed by fire. The Honda Civic was discovered dumped on a track off Yew Tree Road, Birchencliffe, at 11pm last night.