Firefighters' employers are disappointed that the eight-day strike action over pay was not postponed.
The employers said talks were almost complete after agreeing a 16 per cent pay increase - taking basic pay to £25,000 a year by November 2003.
The parties also made agreements on overtime and the introduction of a more flexible work system alongside the current 'four on, four off' shift pattern.
However, the Government refused to fund the £80m needed to complete the deal.
Jim Chrystie, spokesman for the Employers' Organisation for Local Government, said: "We are very disappointed, there was no reason why the strikes should go ahead as we were very close to an agreement."
Almost two-thirds of HR professionals do not support the strike, according to Personneltoday.com's barometer poll.
Of the 252 votes, 160 were against the industrial action.