Hampshire firefighters are refusing to use new anti-terrorist equipment following the breakdown of pay talks.

Similar action by 19 firefighters in Salford led to their suspension, sparking widespread wildcat strikes, though not yet in Hampshire.

The unofficial industrial action meant stations taking only 999 calls, but Hants FBU is not recommending local firefighters follow suit.

The county currently has one incident response unit (IRU) provided by the Government to deal with major chemical incidents and terrorist attacks. This was part of the modernisation process agreed at the end of the long pay dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the employers.

Hampshire FBU met on Wednesday, when spokesman, Roy Goring, said: "Hampshire decided, by a large majority, to follow its executive's policy of withdrawing from the implementation of the June, 2003, agreement. So we are refusing to use, train, or test the IRU."

Asked if Hampshire firefighters could be suspended, he said: "That depends on how management take our position. If they do take action against our members, we will support our members in every way we can.

"We are hoping Hampshire Fire and Rescue take a more reasonable stance and accept our position nationally within the FBU."

The FBU claims employers have failed to pay the outstanding 3.5% pay increase its members have been owed since November.

Mr Goring said the wildcat strikes were unofficial. "Hampshire FBU will not authorise any unofficial action because the law states to have industrial action, you have to have a ballot and we will stick to the law."

Winchester firefighters have pledged their support for any union action.

Dave Graham, sub-officer at North Walls station, in Winchester, said: "We are very sad that the Government is not keeping to the agreement that was reached.

"We are a modern and progressive brigade, but the pay isn't increasing, which was part of the original agreement."

Deputy chief fire officer, Alan House, said yesterday: "As far as we're concerned, it's business as usual."