PRECIOUS seconds could have been lost in the race to save lives after a Spalding fire engine was stripped of vital equipment.
Thousands of pounds of kit used to cut road crash victims free from vehicles was stolen during a raid at Spalding Fire Station overnight on Monday.
The haul of life-saving equipment included hydraulic cutting gear, hose, a generator, spreader and telescopic arm was taken after burglars broke through the bay doors.
South Holland District Council deputy leader Paul Przyszlak said: “The break-in could have left firefighters without the equipment they need – or lose precious seconds in the race to save lives.”
The raid has been blasted by police and fire bosses because a fire engine was grounded at the West Elloe Avenue base while investigations took place.
But they were quick to reassure the public that had there been someone trapped after a crash, cover would have quickly been found from nearby fire stations.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue group manager John Sharp said: “The fire engine was not available to respond to call-outs during the period when the police were conducting their investigations, but nearby stations were available to provide cover.
“Any break-in at the station is taken very seriously as it does put the public at greater risk.
“This was a highly irresponsible theft which could have endangered lives.”
It is believed that lower value items, such as a torch and fittings, were found nearby after the break-in, and it is feared the expensive equipment may have been taken to be used to commit further crimes, such as cutting padlocks off doors, through security fencing or removing wheel clamps or chains from vehicles and caravans.
Pc Matt Wharton said: “We would urge anyone who may have been offered such equipment for sale or who has information about the burglary to contact us as soon as possible.”