Watchdog chief warns against extra two per cent pay hike plan for Manchester firefighters


Firefighters in Manchester and London are set to receive an extra two per cent pay increase because of the increased risk of facing terror attacks in major cities.

The hike is addition to 1.5 per cent rise in general firefighter pay.

The proposal has emerged in a strong letter of objection from Sir Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services, to fire chiefs in London and Manchester.

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In his letter today, Sir Tom drew attention to the fact that police officers, who receive no additional compensation for dealing with such incidents, are currently subject to a pay freeze, while firefighters received a 1.5 per cent increase earlier this year.

He wrote: “It is of course extremely important that every fire and rescue service has the capacity and capability of dealing with an MTA (marauding terror attack).

“This letter is about not paying twice for that essential service, a service the public both needs and properly expects.

“Firefighters, with appropriate training and provided with appropriate protective equipment, can within their established job description be required to respond to a major incident of terrorism.

Sir Tom has written to fire chiefs in Manchester and London

“They are already being paid to do that work, however unlikely or infrequent such an incident may be.”

Sir Tom pointed out that police officers and NHS paramedics facing the same danger as firefighters receive no extra pay.

Police officers have received no increase in their pay this year, in ‘sharp contrast’ to the 1.5 per cent rise agreed nationally for firefighters and the further two per cent planned in London and Greater Manchester, he said.

“For any fire authority to pay again for a service it is already paying for, in this case, the services of professional firefighters, is not an efficient use of public money, especially at a time of acute pressure on public funds.

“If London and Manchester pay all firefighters more for MTA duties, it is likely that every other fire authority in England will face substantial pressure to do the same.

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“None of those other fire authorities is likely to have additional funding from local government to pay twice, as may be the case in London.

“It would follow that each would therefore have to try to increase local taxation, to follow London, or, more likely, reduce the extent and/or quality of fire and rescue services in their communities to balance the books.”

Sir Tom warned the Government may intervene if the authorities press ahead with the pay rise.

A spokesperson for Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “After everything Greater Manchester has been through, it is absolutely essential that we have robust arrangements in place to protect our public in the event of a marauding attack. Indeed, we have been rightly pressed to do so by HMICFRS.

“Whilst HMICFRS have been kept informed of progress, they have only now communicated these issues. However, these negotiations continue and the Mayor is happy to discuss Sir Tom Winsor’s concerns with him.

“The Mayor continues to work with the Chief Fire Officer and FBU (Fire Brigades Union) to ensure the most comprehensive and effective service is provided to communities across Greater Manchester. Our firefighters provide a valuable service to keep us safe and the Mayor believes they should be recognised for this.”

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