It’s the start of another year so it’s time for the annual cash windfall to be awarded to Cheshire chief fire officer Paul Hancock and his deputy Mark Cashin.
Cheshire Fire Brigades Union is ‘shocked and appalled’ to learn of pay increases and bonuses awarded to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service ’s (CFRS) two senior officers for the seventh year in a row.
Mr Hancock – who works part of the week for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service – will get an additional £7,733 and his deputy will receive an extra £6,603.
This is made up of a 2% pay increase plus a one-off bonus to recognise additional responsibilities and cover duties plus their ‘continued high level of performance and leadership’.
The fire service says the additional duties were previously carried out by the now defunct role of the assistant chief fire officer. The same reason was given as a justification for a 2% pay rise last year.
Mr Hancock’s salary will rise from £152,833 to £155,890 which amounts to an extra £3,057. Mr Cashin’s wage will go up from £130,508 to £133,118, an extra £2,610.
The pair will also receive one-off bonuses ‘in recognition of the additional duties and responsibilities incurred over the past 12 months and to recognise their continued high level of performance and leadership’. Mr Hancock will receive £4,676 and Mr Cashin gets £3,993.
Andy Fox-Hewitt, secretary of Cheshire Fire Brigades Union (FBU), is unimpressed.
He said: “Cheshire FBU is shocked and appalled to learn of the pay increases and bonuses awarded to the CFRS principle officers. These bonuses that are labelled as ‘one-offs’ have been awarded for a number of years now.
“At a time when they are proposing cutting 48 full-time firefighter posts, on top of the 134 lost over the last five years, and after being made aware of the increase in attendance times, injuries and deaths in Cheshire, our members are outraged with this news.
“Our firefighter members have been subject to a 1% public sector pay cap imposed by the government. They too have also seen their workloads increase considerably over the last few years, struggling to cope at operational incidents with fewer firefighters to complete tasks, completing record numbers of home fire safety checks, attending management ‘insight days’ in their own time, now undertaking safe and well checks in collaboration with the health service and responding to cardiac arrests on behalf of the ambulance service.
“How have they been rewarded? What have they received in bonuses? Absolutely nothing, nor would they expect anything as public servants. It is disappointing that the leadership team seem unwilling to lead by example, and it is now apparent that we are not all in this together.”
The union official’s comments come in the wake of a statement by West Cheshire Trades Union Council who claim the service has spent millions of pounds on new fire stations like the one in Powey Lane, Mollington , but with fewer firefighters available and slower attendance times adding up to a ‘worse’ service.
But Cheshire Fire Authority chairman Cllr Bob Rudd (Lab, Garden Quarter) said the Brigade Managers’ Pay and Performance Committee, on which he sits, had been guided by independent advice from an HR consultant with a UK-wide view of principle officers’ pay.