A life-saving pilot scheme which sees firefighters tending to Wigan borough heart attack victims has been axed in a pay dispute.
For the past two years crews in Greater Manchester have administered emergency medical treatment, where appropriate, on arrival at major incidents.
An estimated 63 lives have been saved and a further 77 people are said to have avoided serious brain damage through timely interventions, say service chiefs.
But Fire Brigades Union (FBU) leaders say the co-operation of members has been withdrawn amid claims firefighters are not being adequately compensated for the extra responsibility.
The employers’ latest two per cent pay increase offer incorporates the medical duties - but the FBU is adamant the original deal was for extra pay to be negotiated.
FBU Manchester chairman Rob Grundy said Greater Manchester was the only area nationally which had taken part in the trial across a whole brigade area.
He added: “This was part of a trial scheme agreed nationally with our employers, to broaden the role of firefighters and we expected there to be a pay award pending at the end of this.
“Unfortunately two years has passed and this relationship has broken down so the trial scheme has been withdrawn.”
Union bosses questioned how the government intended to fund the extra duties from the start.
Under the scheme 999 operators would direct both an ambulance and fire crew to the scene of a suspected heart attack, if it was within three miles of a fire station. If firefighters arrive on the scene first then they can take charge until paramedics arrive and take over.
A National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of the FBU over ongoing pay restraint.
“However, we do not believe ceasing participation in emergency medical response in any way advances the arguments of the FBU over pay.
“The NFCC strongly urges the FBU to reconsider.
“The scheme shortened the response time from the call for emergency services and supports ambulance crews to undertake advanced clinical work on the scene."