JOINT working between the blue light services at major incidents should become "second nature" to every emergency responder, a fire chief has told the Manchester Arena bombing inquiry.

The hearing into the May 2017 attack has heard Greater Manchester Police (GMP) had declared Operation Plato, a pre-planned response to what they believed was a marauding terrorist firearms attack, as erroneous reports of gunfire had come in.

But they failed to inform the fire and ambulance services and communications between the 999 services broke down, with GMP's force duty officer in HQ swamped with calls and the fire service unable to contact him.

It meant fire crews with specialist equipment such as stretchers were kept away from the scene for two hours amid fears an active shooter was on the loose.

Roy Wilsher, chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said a 2016 review concluded fire and rescue teams with specialist capabilities in marauding terrorist attacks understood the principles of a multi-agency response as outlined in Jesip (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles).

However, inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said: "It may be clear to everyone that actually on the night Jesip did not work well, so communications between the fire service and the police, for example - whoever's fault it is - did not work well and even for those who were at the scene Jesip did not work well.

"We have a situation where everyone thinks in theory it's working absolutely fine and everyone understands it ... but when it comes to the reality of the occasion, which can be a completely terrifying and awful occasion such as this one, it actually does not work in practice.

"So what recommendations can deal with that?"

Mr Wilsher replied: "What it needs to become is second nature for every emergency responder so it's not something you have to think about, it's something you do."

Sir John asked: "Can you give sufficient amount of training to all your firefighters?"

Mr Wilsher said: "I think they can have sufficient input. Wearing breathing apparatus is second nature to all firefighters, they will don it, start and do it. Jesip needs to become the same."

Sir John told him that police officers who were doing their best to assist in the City Room foyer where the bomb was detonated had given evidence that Jesip also did not work for them.

He asked Mr Wilsher if similar training could be provided to every police officer.

The witness said: "I think I would like to understand why they think it didn't work. Was it because the three emergency services hadn't co-located, they weren't communicating, shared situational awareness? Fairly basic principles to have."

Sir John said: "You can probably say people thought all of those things didn't happen satisfactorily on the night."

Mr Wilsher said: "That's my understanding."

He went on to explain the principles of a multi-agency response to a major incident are the same as a motorway traffic collision but on a different scale.

He said: "You co-locate. You are together. You communicate. You understand what's in front of you. You assess the risk of what you are going to do. You have situational awareness. You come up with a plan and you work. So it's not changing, its just the incident that's changing."

Mr Wilsher told John Cooper QC, representing the bereaved families, that strategic leads for all three emergency services wanted another round of nationwide multi-agency assurance visits to assess whether they were complying with Jesip principles as they had not been carried out since 2016 - before the Arena atrocity.

He said the Home Office had been considering the matter for up to 18 months but no decision had been made yet on the initiative which required funding.

The inquiry is looking at events before, during and after the suicide bombing by Salman Abedi, 22, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Among those killed were Radcliffe man, 28-year-old John Atkinson and Bury schoolgirl, 15-year-old Olivia Campbell-Hardy.