Devon and Somerset Fire Chief Lee Howell must be given a straight choice between a full-time role in Devon and Somerset and a position in Wales, firefighters have said.
Howellâ€™s new position as part-time fire advisor to the Welsh Government was revealed earlier last month, but the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority â€“ the group of councillors to whom the service is accountable â€“ have since said they did not agree to Howell working part-time.
Devon and Somerset Fire Brigades Union Brigade Secretary Trevor French said: â€œThe public and fire crews of Devon and Somerset deserve a full-time fire chief; especially at a time when the service appears to be spiralling out of control.
â€œFor the sake of fire safety here and in Wales, the authority must make sure the service has full-time leadership, particularly in a time of such extensive and dangerous cuts.
â€œItâ€™s time for Mr Howell to choose: either he works to improve the safety of Devon and Somerset, or that of Wales. Doing both is not fair on anyone and cannot be an option.â€
Mr French also said that the fire authority must answer three key questions:
- Have much has the fire authority reduced the CFOâ€™s salary by in recognition of his reduction to part-time status?
- If the fire authority hasnâ€™t reduced his salary, does the Â£44,000 a year Howell will receive from the Welsh Government equate as replacement pay for the time spent away from Devon and Somerset?
- If the chair of the authority believes his new role would only involve â€œmaking the odd phone callâ€ in his own time, does the fact that it will be two days a week change his position?
Cllr Mark Healy, chair of the authority, said earlier in the week that Howellâ€™s Welsh role would involve him â€œmaking the odd phone callâ€ â€“ although the new role involves two days a week work.
Healy also accused firefighters with part-time jobs of â€˜double standardsâ€™ for criticising Howell. The average national starting salary for a firefighter is Â£21,157 compared to the Â£138,636 paid to Howell for the 2011/12 year.