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Japan firefighter has pay cut after caught working at fast food restaurant

Fire tracks are seen in this file photo. (Mainichi)

TOYAMA -- A firefighter in Toyama Prefecture has been given a disciplinary pay cut after he was spotted working a second job at a fast food restaurant.

    The fire department lieutenant in his 40s -- based at the fire station in the town of Kamiichi but temporarily assigned to the prefectural Tobu firefighting union headquarters in the city of Uozu -- was slapped with a 10% pay cut for six months on Jan. 7 for moonlighting without the union's permission. The lieutenant was spotted working at a fast food restaurant in the city of Namerikawa by a co-worker when union staff went to the restaurant for year-end safety checks.

    According to the union headquarters, the lieutenant had been working part time at the restaurant since late August 2021, clocking in for about 40 usually four-hour shifts. The disciplinary action was finalized at a hearing held on Jan. 6 on the grounds that the lieutenant violated the Local Public Service Act which bans local government employees from holding second jobs. He has reportedly explained that he had the side job to pay off debts.

    A firefighting union worker on the inspection visit to the restaurant spoke to the lieutenant after noticing him cooking and doing other tasks, and the lieutenant reportedly appeared panicked. He was quoted as telling authorities, "I'm sorry for damaging the reputation of my family, firefighting-related personnel and the union."

    Uozu Mayor Akira Muratsubaki, who also heads the Tobu firefighting union, said in a statement, "We'll make sure that workers thoroughly follow service discipline, and work to prevent a recurrence."

    (Japanese original by Ikuko Aoyama, Toyama Bureau)

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