A UNION claims Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service has been using £40,000-a-year senior officers to go into fire stations at night to check firefighters are resting correctly.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) says the “covert operations” have impacted on firefighters’ morale.
And managers are said to have expressed disquiet at “snooping” on their colleagues.
The FBU says group and station managers were sent to Crewe and Macclesfield fire stations in the early hours of Sunday to check firefighters were resting in reclining chairs which replaced dormitory-style beds.
This followed the case of a watch manager being disciplined and demoted after lying on the floor instead of resting in the chairs which were installed across all 24-hour stations at a cost of £76,000.
Dave Williams, secretary of Cheshire FBU, said: “We were told they were there to look into response times because the quicker we turn-out, the better. I think they found everything to be OK.”
But Mr Williams claimed the real issue was whether staff were using the chairs.
He, said: “Their stance is if everybody is doing what they should be doing, they shouldn’t be concerned about being checked up on.”
Firefighters have complained to The Chronicle about suffering bad backs since the introduction of the chairs, about the thin blankets issued and one said the feet of his six foot- plus colleague stuck out the end.
The FBU says “one or two” firefighters have been given dispensation not to rest in the chairs because of health problems.
Commenting on the station visits, fire service spokesman Tim Bevington said: “Not a great deal I can say other than, as a 24-hour emergency service, we obviously have staff on duty at all times of the night and day, both firefighters and senior managers.
“Visits to stations to discuss operational and other issues are part and parcel of managing a 24-hour emergency service on behalf of the communities of Cheshire, Halton and Warrington.”