ANGRY Huddersfield firefighters could be voting on strike action within days.
They are furious that their long-running pay dispute was not settled yesterday - despite an "acceptable" deal being on the table.
And they accused the Government of scuppering the deal.
One Huddersfield firefighter said: "Everyone is extremely angry. Both sides in West Yorkshire expected a deal and we were told the pay would be coming through this month. There was agreement on both sides that the deal was acceptable."
Leaders of the Fire Brigades' Union plan to hold a strike ballot today after the talks to end the long-running pay dispute ended without agreement.
Union chiefs and local authority employers failed to sign a proposal to pay the final two stages of the deal which ended the bitter strikes of 2002 and 2003.
Firefighters would have received a 3.5% pay rise outstanding since last November and 4.2% from July 1.
But there was some confusion surrounding talks in central London yesterday - employers claimed they ended after the FBU rejected an offer, while the union said that its members were still waiting to reconvene and discuss the issue.
The FBU accused Nick Raynsford, Minister for Local and Regional Government, of "wrecking" the deal, and said the process of balloting would begin.
A FBU spokesman said: "The only sticking point - stand down time - had been resolved by both sides last Tuesday. The union had agreed to a form of words, proposed by the employers, which they rejected today. No problems were raised between then and the talks today."
The spokesman claimed the employers had met prior to both sides getting together, and that its members - "packed" with London Labour Party councillors instructed to "wreck" the deal - had voted 13 to 10 against accepting the agreement.
FBU assistant general secretary Mike Fordham said: "I am stunned and angry. We had 14 days of detailed daily talks and reached agreements which the union honoured this morning.
"A clear agreement was reached. A Government-inspired wrecking crew from London has been sent in to destroy this deal and they have done it."
A spokesman for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, said: "It is nonsense for the FBU to say that Government has intervened in any way at all.
"The Government has taken no part in these negotiations."