Today marked day one of Merseyside FBU's fourth eight day strike. Unlike in previous disputes, there is no military cover, since the Territorial Army are stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kazakhstan.
Three days ago, Fire Authority chief negotiator Bill Evans said it would take time to study and cost the FBU demands but the talks had gone well.
Talks resumed on Tuesday, and as late as Wednesday morning there was confidence today's strike could be called off. However, a few points of disagreement remained.
A fire service spokesman said: "There were hopes that the dispute would be resolved within hours, but this proved to be too optimistic.
"There were a couple of spanners in the works, but progress is still being made."
In an email to Fire Authority councillors, Fire Authority Chief Tony McGuirk announced that: "We have now been talking for a long time and we are now close to an agreement.
"Both parties feel the detail is important as our experience of the past means that both parties do not want to have to go back and redefine what we think we have agreed.
"We will be working through the detail over the next few hours and fully intend to see it through if we possibly can. Talks are cordial and constructive."
Last week, the Liverpool Echo speculated that a system of retained second pumps - with firefighters attending emergency incidents from their homes - had now been agreed at some of the four stations chosen for downgrading. And it was believed that an agreement has been reached for shifts of seven members of staff to work at the central call centre.
No details have emerged of the FBU's latest position, but from a working class perspective, the talks can only be positive and constructive if they are leading to the Fire Authority removing their threat of cuts to essential services. Anything else would be negative and destructive.
All trade unionists and anti-capitalists on Merseyside must recognise that it is the profit system that has demanded these cuts, and the profit system that has taken the Territorial Army off to fight for control of oil, leaving Merseysiders with little cover during the strike.
Send messages of support to Merseyside FBU, 50-54 Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5UN. Donations should be sent to Merseyside Hardship Fund, HSBC bank, sort code 40-29-28, account number 91320165.