MERSEYSIDE firefighters are threatening industrial action because they have been told to use "No More Nails" superglue to fit smoke alarms.
Union officials say the glue is not a suitable replacement for screws - and lives could be lost.
Merseyside Chief Fire Officer Tony McGuirk revealed yesterday that the Fire Brigades Union had lodged an official dispute. The manufacturers have backed the union's opinion.
Mr McGuirk claimed the glue dispute is an example of how FBU leaders have an in-built compulsion to oppose any kind of change.
He hit out amid a row which has broken out over plans to reduce the number of crew members on emergency vehicles, revealed by the Daily Post on Saturday.
The union is also considering taking action over that step.
Mr McGuirk said: "Whatever change the Fire Authority in Merseyside proposes, there's a threat of industrial action.
"No matter how small or insignificant. For example, we've had a threat of industrial action over how sticky No More Nails glue is that we use to stick-up smoke alarms.
"Whatever we propose, we seem to be faced with industrial action."
But Les Skarratts, Merseyside branch secretary of the FBU, said the glue dispute was lodged in the interests of public safety.
He said: "The union is not opposed to change. We have been pro-active in bringing about many changes for the good of the industry.
"Almost every disagreement has been resolved but we will not compromise on public safety.
"We are concerned that in the long term the No More Nails glue may not be sticky enough to hold the weight of the alarms.
"We are concerned the glue may fail and will not keep them in place.
"Smoke alarms could become loose and inactive. We view this as a serious threat to public safety.
"Mr McGuirk's comments are inflammatory. He is trying to belittle our efforts in what is a very serious matter.
"We believe these alarms should all be fixed with the use of screws that would ensure they are securely fitted and held permanently in place.
"We will continue to fight for what we believe is right."
But Mr McGuirk said that screw fixing is available for smoke alarms if requested by householders.
He added: "We believe, in the vast majority of cases, the glue is sufficient on its own.
"We have not had any reports of glued alarms falling down."
Unibond, the manufacturers of No More Nails, backed the FBU, saying the product was not designed to replace jobs normally calling for screws.
A Unibond spokesman said: "No More Nails is a DIY building adhesive which requires at least one porous surface in order to work at its best.
"If you are attaching a skirting board to a wall, it is ideal.
"But attaching a plastic moulded fire alarm to a shiny new ceiling there is a chance it will not stick.
"It is not the kind of job we recommend it for and if it is used out of context it may fail."