Taxis have been used by West Midlands Fire Service to ferry firefighters' uniforms and safety gear between stations, it has been claimed.
This follows the introduction of new shift patterns as firefighters have been sent from their home stations to other depots to cover for sick colleagues.
A firefighter yesterday said there was at least one case last week in which a crew member's kit - which includes helmet, tunic, boots and gloves - had been sent on by taxi at a cost of more than £12.
Stations with fire vans had since been ordered by West Midlands Fire Service bosses to use them to transport the kit but when no van was available taxis were the only alternative, he said.
"This is public money being wasted. I cannot believe it is happening. It is a joke," he said.
The man said he had also heard of an instance in which a kit was sent from one station to another only for the firefighter involved to be told on arrival that his services were not required but needed at a separate station.
"He had to get the taxi to take his kit there," he said.
West Midlands Fire Service Divisional Officer Archie Wheldon said: " The organisation has considered using taxis as an absolute last-ditch effort to move kit.
"A firefighter without his kit cannot be utilised to the maximum benefit of the public.
"Firefighters are paid an allowance to move their kit and, on certain occasions, they can be paid an enhanced allowance.
"While we encourage all our staff to do that and hope that they would, there are times when that does not occur.
"Non-uniformed colleagues are on flexible hours to move equipment around the brigade and kit is part of that."