England

FBU criticises Devon and Somerset fire service job ads

A fire service which cut 16 jobs has been criticised for advertising two other posts less than a month later.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has advertised for a process improvement officer and a zero-based budgeting project support officer.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the move was "scandalous".

A fire service spokesman said: "These posts will help manage the way support functions are managed in the future, with the aim of reducing costs."

'More bean counters'

He added: "We would be unable to provide front-line services without support staff in the background, who ensure everyone is paid on time or have the right equipment to do their job.

"It is anticipated that these changes will produce savings of £3-4m by 2014. It will mean that we will not need to look for additional savings in front-line posts."

John Drake, regional secretary of the South West FBU, said the two new posts each had a salary of more than £22,000, more than the pay of a firefighter recruit.

He said: "This is scandalous. Front-line firefighters are being cut, but there's money for more bean counters.

"This is not protecting the front line but sacrificing it to pay for the back office.

"No-one ever dialled 999 and asked for a zero-based budgeting project support officer."

The cuts, agreed at a meeting of the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority on 27 May, will see 12 posts go from Somerset and four from Devon.

The move is part of plans to cut millions of pounds. The authority estimates it will have to save £3.5m in 2013 and a further £3.5m in 2014.

The authority had put forward proposals for firefighters to volunteer to stay at their station for four days - 96 hours - on the run to make savings and sustain cover.

But the FBU said it was against employment law and would put public safety at risk.

The cuts are being made as a result of the government's Spending Review, which fixed spending budgets for each government department up to 2014-15.

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