A disagreement in Greater Manchester over new equipment had spread rapidly to several other areas by Wednesday.
This came on top of angry exchanges between local government employers and the Fire Brigades Union over the final obstacle to implementation of the agreement that ended last year's protracted dispute.
Employers want to remove 'stand down time' from the national agreement and leave this to local negotiation.
The union responded by adjourning its national conference until June, when it will recommend a ballot for industrial action. It said stand down time did not form part of the agreement.
Christina Jebb (Lib Dem), chair of the employers' side, said: 'The employers believe that reasonable working patterns should be determined locally.'
Some training, working on vehicles and inspections could take place at night, she said.