Responding to news that Lee Howell, chief fire officer of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority, has been appointed a fire and rescue advisor for the Welsh Government while continuing his position in Devon and Somerset part time, South West Fire Brigades Union official Tam McFarlane said:
â€œFirefighters across Devon and Somerset are furious at this news.
â€œFire crews and the public deserve a full-time Fire Chief, not a part time, ad hoc arrangement.
â€œWeâ€™re still reeling from the announcement of massive cuts to frontline services in the face of overwhelming public and professional opposition.
â€œAt a time of unprecedented cuts and overwhelming public concern, surely the needs of our serviceâ€“ and the firefighters who are trying to deliver it â€“ come first?â€
FBU Devon & Somerset official Bob Walker said: â€œThis decision is yet another kick in the teeth for our fire crews at a time when morale has never been lower.
â€œRunning our service is not a part time job, and this is an insult to everyone who works here.
â€œDid the fire chief know when he reassured us a few weeks ago that public safety wouldnâ€™t be compromised by his cuts that he would soon be taking up part-time work in Wales and leaving our Service in the lurch?â€
â€œWe need openness and transparency from the Fire Authority: for firefighters to find out via the media is very upsetting.â€
The news comes just weeks after Chief Fire Officer Howell oversaw a highly controversial decision to make massive cuts to the fire service across the Devon & Somerset. The cuts, which were passed by Devon & Somerset Fire Authority on the 11th of July, include cutting fulltime fire cover at several fire stations by half and getting rid of over 149 frontline firefighters posts (almost 1 in 5 fulltime posts in the entire brigade).