CHESHIRE Chief Fire Officer Steve McGuirk has angered fire-fighters by accusing them of sleeping for the majority of the time and keeping 'lots of time off ' for second jobs.
The comments are in a leaked e-mail from Mr McGuirk to regional union officials which has found its way into fire stations across Cheshire.
Mr McGuirk claimed firefighters slept most of their tour of duty and made sure they had plenty of time off for second jobs. He threatened to inform the Inland Revenue of any discrepancies.
He also speculated that Frodsham Fire Station may have to close if a new station was built to cover the area encompassing the town.
An irritated Mr McGuirk sent the message to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) from his Blackberry e-mail device in response to a letter placed by an FBU member in a local paper about mooted changes to fire cover in the county.
He said: 'The FBU has had a 20% pay rise over last two years but have nevertheless fought to keep old-fashioned practices - not least going to bed for the majority of time at work and keeping lots of time off for people to do second jobs.'
Mr McGuirk said as many as 50% of firefighters at one Cheshire station had second jobs and people in the community were being 'denied jobs and livelihoods'.
He said: 'We would also urge the Inland Revenue to look in detail at the staff concerned and, of course, as a responsible employer we will be happy to provide details.'
He said Frodsham Fire Station and cuts at other local stations may be necessary if a station was built to cover
that locality although the proposal is not contained in the latest draft modernisation plan released this week.
Fire Brigades Union spokesman Duncan Milligan said: 'Our members won't be surprised that these are Mr McGuirk's views because he has expressed them before.
'We're used to a robust exchange of views between ourselves and the Chief Fire Officer.'
Cheshire Fire Service spokesman Tim Bevington said: 'It is disappointing that a private e-mail sent between two individuals should be made public when neither of the parties involved released it.'