Firefighters in Long Sutton are furious with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) for wrongly suggesting they are unhappy to man a “fire ambulance”.
Some of the town’s firefighters dropped out of the union 12 years ago because it opposed members becoming LIVES co-responders – and have since saved many lives by attending hundreds of medical calls.
Long Sutton is one of three fire stations likely to have a fire ambulance in a £491,000, year-long pilot project starting in July.
The union wants assurances that fire ambulance calls won’t take priority over fires and county FBU secretary Karl McKee claims the proposals “play Russian roulette with fire safety”.
Mr McKee said: “Local firefighters are happy to work with any other agency when appropriate, but we are not here to prop up ambulance cover at the expense of fire safety.”
Long Sutton Fire Station watch manager Richard King was angered by comments from the union boss and wants the fire ambulances to hit the road.
He told Mr McKee in an email: “You are quite right – us local firefighters are happy to work with other agencies and have done for a good number of years. However, I wouldn’t suggest we are ‘propping’ up the ambulance service – we are supporting them to administer emergency first aid that is proven to be lifesaving in our community.
“What do you think gives you the right to speak on my behalf without even engaging with me or my crew to ask our opinion?
“If a member of another station has voiced his concerns to you, should you not have spoken in that context and not simply said ‘local crews’ as this is untrue.”
He said the FBU opposed firefighters becoming LIVES co-responders and a number of the Long Sutton team dropped out of the union because they wanted to save lives.
“We are really hopeful that the (fire ambulance) project will go ahead as planned,” said Mr King. “It’s the union putting obstacles in the way.”
Fifty people attended a consultation at Long Sutton Fire Station to hear about the fire ambulance plan – and one man revealed he owed his life to the Long Sutton firefighters following a cardiac arrest.
“He said ‘I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you guys’,” said Mr King.
The watch manager said firefighters had attended medical emergencies for 12 years without jeopardising fire cover and that would continue with a fire ambulance.
Stamford and Woodhall Spa are also due to have fire ambulances.