Managers from Merseyside Fire Service are being trained to operate fire engines in the event of firefighters voting to strike later this month.
Soldiers cannot provide strike cover
Chief Fire Officer Tony McGurk said that all managers had been firefighters in their careers.
A strike ballot result by members of the FBU is due on Monday.
The union has balloted members over plans by Merseyside Fire Authority to cut one in 10 posts and is in talks with councillors from the authority.
Previous disputes have been covered by soldiers using Green Goddess fire engines but the British Army is stretched because of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr McGurk said: "It is a matter of some concern, but other services have faced industrial action without military support, so we've learned a great deal of lessons from how fire services cope.
"What we will do is recruit firefighters who are managers and there are firefighters who are not members of the Fire Brigades' Union.
"We can provide a very, very high level of fire cover indeed. It's not the same as when firefighters are there day in day out, but it's still a very professional level of cover.
"They are not office workers - every one of these individuals has been a professional firefighter all their career."
Les Skarratts, Merseyside FBU Secretary, said the FBU was disappointed with the management's action and the cover would not be adequate.
He said some progress had been made in talks with councillors from the fire authority and more talks are due before the end of the week.