THE TWO-JOBS FIREFIGHTERS; Undertakers; TV Licence Officers; Teachers; Mortgage Brokers; Accountants; Actors; the 2,000 Striking Firemen with Other Jobs

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Hastings, Andy Whelan and Abdul Taher

A THIRD of the striking firefighters who will disrupt this week's Bonfire Night celebrations have second jobs.

A Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed moonlighting is so widespread that fire chiefs have drawn up an official list of the jobs firefighters are allowed to do.

The register reveals that almost 2,000 of London's 5,900 firefighters also work in jobs including accountants, undertakers, actors and models. The document also discloses that 107 full-time London firefighters are employed as retained, or parttime, staff with other brigades.

Critics have long suspected that a small number of firefighters supplement their income by doing odd jobs and driving minicabs. But the list exposes the full extent of the second jobs culture, and reveals why the firefighters are so resistant to change.

The disclosure comes just days after it was reported that 2,700 firefighters were being paid a London weighting allowance of [pounds sterling]5,021 a year, even though they did not live in the capital.

Leaked documents showed that eight firemen are based overseas, including one who is understood to live in Majorca and another who lives in Denmark. Another six live in the Irish Republic.

The Mail on Sunday has used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the list of second jobs currently being done by 1,780 full-time firefighters employed by the London Fire Brigade.

The list divides the additional careers into 14 categories including accountancy and finance, retail and factory, leisure and fitness, driving and security.

Ten people are classed as entrepreneurs and there is an accountant, a private investigator, a chiropodist, a hypnotherapist, nine lifeguards, three mortgage brokers, two butchers, and even two undertakers

One of the firefighters tracked down by the Mail on Sunday is a TV and film extra who worked on the Hollywood blockbuster The Prince of Persia. The list only includes details of staff who have had their additional sources of income approved by the London Fire Brigade - the true number of staff who supplement their income is likely to be higher.

The firefighters are able to accommodate second and even third jobs because of a controversial shift system which involves them working four days on and four days off.

The revelation that so many of the capital's firefighters are moonlighting will undermine their demands.

Thousands of firefighters plan to strike tomorrow and then for another 47 hours beginning at 10am on November 5, the fire service's busiest night of the year.

They are protesting at management plans to reform the current shift pattern. The London Fire Brigade wants to keep the current four days on, four days off system but to increase the daytime shifts from nine hours to 11 and reduce the 15-hour night shift to 13.

It says the changes are necessary because it wants to increase the time staff spend on daytime fire-prevention work, which it claims has reduced the number of fires in the capital by 48 per cent during the past nine years

London Fire Authority chairman Brian Coleman said last night: 'The reason the Fire Brigades Union does not want a shorter night shift is that it will mean they get three hours less sleep - and therefore make them less able to do their second jobs.

'What I would prefer is a better paid, fulltime fire service, rather than one which is part time as at present.'

A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: 'The minor changes we are seeking to the current shift patterns are perfectly reasonable to anyone exclusively working in a single profession. We would urge the firefighters to call off their strike and re-engage in negotiations.'

Conservative MP Philip Davies said: 'The firefighters ought to start to live in the real world at a time when many people are grateful to hang on to their one job, otherwise they will lose any support that they had from the public. …