Bristol firefighters relying on foodbanks in cost of living crisis

Avon Fire and Rescue’s Chief Fire Officer (CFO) says “it is only fair” his staff receive a wage which they deserve.

Bristol’s firefighters have had to rely on foodbanks to make it through the cost of living crisis, accoridng to Avon Fire and Rescue’s Chief Fire Officer (CFO).

With the energy price cap set to increase by 80% on October 1, Simon Shilton outlined his concerns for the welfare staff and the disproportionate pay they are receiving.

Mr Shilton said: “I have always been proud to be part of the UK Fire and Rescue Service and none more so than as the leader of Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

“My staff work hard and its only fair they deserve to be appropriately remunerated for the invaluable job they do and role they play in society.

“All our staff deserve a properly funded pay rise in line with the increasing cost of living and in line with those offered to other public sector services.”

Mr Shilton explained how an inability to offer an attractive rate of pay has hampered the service’s ability to hire more firefighters.

He added: “Unfortunately, the pay afforded to fire and rescue service staff has not reflected the roles within the Service for some time.

“The number of applications we receive for roles within the Fire Service are declining.

“Many applicants for firefighter roles are applying in the knowledge they will need to take a drop in salary from their current employment.

“ This has led to difficulties in us recruiting and retaining staff and more recently, has despairingly led to some staff having to access food banks to get by – this cannot be right.”

Could industrial action be taken?

Bristol has recently been affected by industrial action carried out by railway workers and barristers, could the city’s fire service suit?

“When I speak to staff, they will tell me that they do it for the love of the job, because they care about the future of their local communities and ultimately, they want to keep people safe from harm.

“But as we are already seeing, this does not pay the bills or put food on the table and staff should be able to do this job, support their families and their communities.

“As a Chief Fire Officer, I am seriously worried about the welfare of my staff who are facing significant hardships.

“Following on from the recent period of hot weather and going into the winter, the imminent threat of industrial action with unresolved pay negotiations would stretch our organisation beyond its capabilities.

“I know for many, taking part in industrial action it is not a decision they will be taking lightly.”