New Cheshire chief fire officer Mark Cashin has created a fresh management structure with two assistant chief fire officers to support him in place of just one deputy.
Area managers Alex Waller and Gus O’Rourke have been appointed to the assistant roles on a temporary six-month basis with a boost in salary from £57,252 to £108,570 each.
The Chronicle has received comments from disgruntled ex-fire service employees concerned about ‘top heavy’ management yet fewer firefighters.
And one former employee felt the recruitment process, albeit for temporary roles, should have been open to more potential candidates.
But Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service says the changes will only cost an extra £7,322 to the taxpayer because of cost-savings including the deletion of a group manager role. The posts were advertised internally with just two people interviewed for the roles and both were successful.
However, fire service spokesman Neil Bellis confirmed a full recruitment process, open to internal and external candidates, would take place at the end of the six month-period if the roles were made permanent.
Explaining the changes, Mr Bellis continued: “Following approval from the Cheshire Fire Authority, a revised service management structure has been introduced on a temporary basis. This will see the deletion of the deputy chief fire officer position and the creation of two assistant chief fire officer (ACFO) roles.
“The changes aim to provide increased capacity and resilience at brigade manager level to ensure the Service can effectively meet future challenges.”
Mr Cashin, who earned £134,449 when he was Cheshire’s deputy, now earns £145,000 which is less than the recently retired chief Paul Hancock who took home £157,448. The job also comes with a car but the two assistants won’t be provided with vehicles and Mr Hancock’s old car has been sold.
Fire authority chairman Cllr Bob Rudd supported the new chief’s right to managing the service in his own way. At the end of the six-month period the two assistant roles would be advertised nationally with the current incumbents able to apply ‘if they so wish’. In the meantime, the two assistants had the ‘opportunity to show what they are capable of doing’.