The West Midlands Chief Fire Officer yesterday said the spectre of industrial action still remained despite management moving into a "more agreeable relationship" with local union officials.
Frank Sheehan said managers had been in constructive talks with local Fire Brigade Union officials since the region's firefighters staged a series of short strikes in November. But the threat of industrial action remained because of a national dispute over pensions, he added.
Mr Sheehan was speaking as he outlined the service's budget for the coming year at an executive committee meeting of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority yesterday.
He said the previous walkouts by firefighters, which saw Army personnel being drafted in across the region, had cost the brigade £500,000.
Mr Sheehan said: "In terms of the local dispute we have had, I see more positives than negatives. We seem to be moving into certainly a more agreeable relationship with the union.
"My view is that we can come to an agreement that is beneficial to both sides and come up with solutions more palatable to firefighters on the ground."