‘Fraud’ inquiry at fire station

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A RETAINED Holbeach firefighter has been suspended on full pay accused of fraud.

Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue has confirmed that a full investigation has taken place and appropriate action taken against the individual, although declined to comment on whether the firefighter has since returned to work or is still suspended.

It is believed the allegations centre around a practice of retained firefighters “clocking on” colleagues who are unable to reach the fire station within the allotted five-minute response time so they can claim the call-out fee.

Steve Pembroke, a spokesman for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, said: “We have no evidence to suggest this is widespread but have taken steps to prevent it happening again.

“Any fraud allegations are taken extremely seriously and dealt with in accordance with our counter-fraud policies.

“We have a zero tolerance approach to any type of fraud and have measures in place to tackle it effectively and protect the public purse.

“We only suspend staff when absolutely necessary.

“Thankfully, such instances are rare but when it does happen there is an investigation and hearing process that could then be followed by appeals and perhaps an employment tribunal.”

Mr Pembroke said the retained firefighter would have been suspended on full pay based on his last three months’ earnings including call-out payments and “retainer” fee as “staff remain innocent until proven guilty”.

He added: “It would be wrong to penalise them while the process is still ongoing.”