With Britain’s fire-fighters preparing for further strike action in pursuit of their 40% pay claim, the fire dispute took a bizarre new twist with sensational claims that firemen have turned to arson in a dramatic attempt to up the ante. Indeed, one Nottingham man has told a Sunday newspaper that his house was the subject of a ‘drive-by’ firebomb attack by a passing fire engine, which subsequently returned to put out the very blaze its crew had started! “Late one night just after the first fire strike had ended, this fire appliance drove very slowly down our street, with all of its lights off – as it came level with our house, one of the crew lowered his window and hurled a lighted petrol bomb through my front window! As fire engulfed the front room, another fireman leapt out of the cab and proceeded to pour petrol through the letterbox, then stuffed a lighted rag after it! As a sheet of flame spread across the hall carpet, I saw him run back to his appliance, which then sped away down the street,” forty two year old Tony Calve claims. “Luckily, myself and the rest of my family were able to escape through the back door. However, no sooner than we were outside, than a fire engine came screeching up in front of the house – siren blaring and lights flashing – and its crew proceeded to put the blaze out! It must have been the same appliance – there is no other way it could have arrived so quickly! Not only that, I checked with the neighbours and none of them had called the fire brigade! I was furious, my family could easily have been burnt to death! This is highly irresponsible behaviour on the fire-fighters’ part!”

Mr Calve was later arrested when he attacked the firemen fighting the blaze at his house with a length of scaffolding pole, screaming “you bastards!” at them. There have been similar reports from all over the country. Jerry Wagg, for example, was enjoying a barbecue in the back garden of his terraced house in Yeovil one Sunday afternoon, when a fire engine screeched up outside his house, completely unbidden. “Before I knew what was happening, my front door was smashed down with fire axes and half a dozen firemen rushed through my house to the barbecue – I tried to tell them that there was no fire, but their leader told me that I’d better ‘shut up and piss off’ if I knew what was good for me! I watched in horror as his men then doused the barbecue with petrol, creating a huge blaze in my garden!” However, worse was to come, as the fire-fighters started filling Wagg’s garden shed with propane cylinders and illegal Chinese fireworks. “Of course, as soon as the flames reached the shed, it exploded – gas cylinders and fireworks were flying everywhere! Obviously, they then had to call in half a dozen more appliances to deal with what was now a major incident,” recalls Wagg, who was later prosecuted for possession of illegal explosives. “They were there for hours fighting the blaze – it was a miracle the whole street didn’t burn down! Before the left, the firemen threatened they’d come back and burn down my house if I ever told anyone what had really happened!”

At least one politician believes that these incidents are part of a sinister conspiracy on the part of the fire-fighters. “It is no coincidence that there are significantly fewer major fires and incidents when the fire-fighters are on strike than when they are actually working,” claims Tory backbencher Sir Harry Ronson-Tewke. “It is quite obvious that they are actually setting additional fires in order to give the impression that they are highly overworked. It also means that they can improve their response times, as they know I advance where the fires are and don’t have to be called by the public! They doubtless hope to avoid large-scale job cuts and justify their inflated pay demands through this dastardly ploy!” According to Ronson-Tewke, several of his own constituents have fallen victim to the fire-fighters’ devious machinations. “One shocked old lady told me how three off-duty firemen had come round to her house with a rottweiler and had chased her seven pet cats up a tree, just so that their colleagues at the local fire station would have an excuse to come out and rescue them,” he bellows, red-faced with rage. “Apparently their attempts to get the cats down were designed to be as time-consuming as possible, and included shouting ‘boo!’ through a megaphone at the unfortunate animals, firing oxygen cylinders at them and attempting to wash them out of the tree with high powered water hoses. Whilst these bizarre methods eventually dislodged five of the felines, the last two were only brought down to earth when the firemen used their axes to chop down the tree, which unfortunately fell on the old dear’s house, smashing through the roof and wrecking three rooms! Not only did she suffer a serious heart attack, but she has also informed that her cats are also still in a state of shock, with one having gone completely bald with fright!”

In another incident, one of the Tory MP’s constituents found himself being cut free from his car after suffering only a minor rear-end shunt. “Apparently the vehicle that rear-ended him was a large unmarked red vehicle – obviously a fire engine – and that the fire crew arrived within thirty seconds of the accident,” says Ronson-Tewke. “Although he wasn’t trapped, they insisted on cutting the roof of his car, completely wrecking it! When he tried to protest he was given a high-voltage electric shock from the appliance’s defibrillator!”

Fire-fighter’s union chief Jerry Diddler has been quick to condemn Ronson-Tewke’s allegations. “Is this man completely insane? These claims are outrageous,” he told us as he stepped from the swimming pool of his five-bedroomed Surrey house. “Does he honestly expect the public to believe that underpaid public servants, dedicated to protecting the public are going around causing accidents that actually endanger lives? Next thing, he’ll be claiming that the police are committing crimes in order to justify increases to their budgets!” Indeed, Ronson-Tewke has recently claimed that the police have a vested interest in keeping crime figures high. “How else are they to justify their continued existence? Why else do you think they keep releasing young offenders and drug users without charge? It is so they can commit more crimes for the police to allegedly solve. And what do you think happens to all those guns handed in during firearms amnesties? They are put back onto the street – sold from the boots of police cars, I’m told – to further fuel the crime rate,” he asserts. “I even have evidence that when business is slack, the police resort to committing minor crimes themselves to boost the figures! One of my constituents recently told me that she saw the very same man who had exposed himself to her in a local park in uniform, directing traffic outside the local school only two days later!”