Fire service bosses are being paid up to six times more than firefighters, many of whom are facing “in-work poverty”, according to a union.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said Freedom of Information (FoI) requests revealed “stark inequalities” in pay for firefighters and management.
Chief fire officers are paid an average of £148,000, with the highest being £206,000, over six times more than an ordinary firefighter, said the union.
The report was published as FBU members continued to vote on whether to strike over pay after rejecting a 5% offer.
The FBU said after a decade of below or at-inflation pay settlements, it is receiving reports of firefighters and control staff being forced to foodbanks and struggling to pay their bills.
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Firefighters and control staff are facing yet another real terms pay cut while fire chiefs rake in huge salaries.
“FBU members are increasingly facing real ‘in work’ poverty, with firefighters having to rely on foodbanks and take on additional jobs to afford the basics.
“At the same time, some fire chiefs are also trying to persuade firefighters and control staff to step back from industrial action, to simply shut up about salaries that are several times smaller than their bosses.
“It’s insulting and stinks of hypocrisy of some chief officers who refuse to make the case for better pay for their workers.
“Chief fire officers are not worth six times more than firefighters, it was the latter who were called key workers during the pandemic delivering vital services including moving the bodies of the deceased.
“Firefighters and control staff are being left with no other choice but to take action.”