Firefighters are angry after discovering top brass at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service received a 4% pay boost worth thousands of pounds while they are restricted to 1%.
The Fire Brigades Union says it’s groundhog day at the fire service as every year senior managers bag bonuses while making cuts to the service.
This will be the sixth consecutive year chief fire officer Paul Hancock and his deputy Mark Cashin have enjoyed windfalls even though the pair have not actually been given an annual pay rise.
But Mr Hancock now earns £151,320 and his deputy Mr Cashin £129,216 following the 4% cash boost.
This is made up of a 2% ‘one-off’ performance payment to reflect major progress over the past 12 months and a 2% rise because they have picked up additional out-of-hours responsibilities following the retirement of assistant chief fire officer Richard Ost whose post has not been replaced.
Operational area managers have also received a 2.5% rise for being added to the out-of-hours rota.
Andy Fox-Hewitt, secretary of Cheshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU), is unimpressed.
He said: “Our members in Cheshire have received a restricted 1% pay increase this year which, after increases in both National Insurance and pension contributions, has seen an actual pay deduction in take-home pay.
“In contrast the 2% increase in pay and the 2% bonus the chief fire officer and deputy chief fire officer have received has left our members shocked and disappointed.
“The old mantra of ‘we’re all in this together’ has never seemed more inappropriate and distasteful.”
Mr Fox-Hewitt claims the out-of-hours responsibilities have actually diminished for the two principal officers as they are no longer on the ‘gold command’ fires rota which the three operational area managers will pick up. He understands Mr Hancock and Mr Cashin are now only on the multi-agency ‘gold command’ rota covering much rarer events like the Bosley Mill explosion near Macclesfield in 2015.
Mr Fox-Hewitt added: “I’m sure the communities of Cheshire will be equally disappointed as whilst their fire service continues to see cuts in the full-time operational response, they will also see managers continue to see rewards in their pay.”
Cheshire Fire Authority pointed out that removing the role of assistant chief fire officer (ACFO) would save more than £100,000 a year.
Fire authority chairman Cllr John Joyce said: “Our latest estimates are that we need to make savings of more than £5 million over the next four years and every area of the organisation needs to make a contribution.
“Deleting the ACFO post was a significant step but it has saved over £100,000 a year even after we quite rightly made minor increases to the pay of those senior managers now required to take on additional responsibilities and commitments.”