MANAGERS at Cheshire Fire received a ‘significant’ pay rise this year while 48 firefighters face losing their jobs according to the Fire Brigades Union.
The organisation said its members are ‘outraged’ by the deal, which saw Cheshire chief fire officer, Paul Hancock, receive a two per cent pay rise to boost his annual salary to £155,890.
Deputy chief fire officer Mark Cashin also saw his salary rise, to £133,118, at a time when firefighters have been hit by the government’s one per cent public sector pay cap.
And fire services' budgets in England have been cut by 17 per cent since 2010, according to figures from the National Audit Office.
The pair also received one-off bonuses of £4,676 and £3,993 respectively – equivalent to three per cent of their salaries.
But Cheshire Fire said the pay rises were agreed after one member of the senior management team was cut and that no firefighters will be made redundant.
Andrew Fox-Hewitt, secretary of the FBU in Cheshire, said: “This is a slap in the face of firefighters throughout Cheshire.
“At a time when managers want to cut 48 full-time firefighters posts – on top of the 134 they’ve already axed over the past five years – it is despicable that they have taken part in this highly inappropriate deal.
“Firefighters have been subject to the government’s one per cent public sector pay cap. I don’t see why the rules should be any different for senior managers.
“Our members are outraged by this.”
He added that firefighters face an increased workload and have had to attend work meetings in their spare time.
“We have undertaken a record number of home fire safety checks, have attended management ‘insight days’ in our own time, collaborated with the health service and now we are even responding to people suffering from cardiac arrests,” he said.
“If senior managers receive a bonus for their work, why don’t firefighters?”
A spokesman for Cheshire Fire said the senior management team was reduced from three officers to two last year and it has pledged to make no firefighters redundant.
She said: “The pay of the service's remaining two principal officers is reviewed annually by the Brigade Managers Pay and Performance Committee.
“At their meeting on January 10, members agreed to award a two per cent pay rise to the chief fire officer and chief executive and the deputy chief fire officer to recognise their operational cover duties and additional responsibilities.
“Cheshire Fire Authority has kept its pledge of making no firefighters redundant, instead the reduction in wholetime posts has happened naturally, as people have left or retired from the service.
"This has only been possible by changing how some fire engines are staffed and making reductions in support service areas.
"We have continued to recruit on-call firefighters into the service and last year also saw us recruit a further 18 wholetime firefighters. We have also closed no fire stations.
"In fact we have built four additional stations to improve emergency cover even further."