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Save a life and you will be nicked; Fireman Bam's threat to picket line heroes.

Byline: CHARLES LAVERY

A FIREMASTER has told police to arrest any firefighters trying to take an engine to a blaze while on strike.

Strathclyde Firemaster Jeff Ord - nicknamed Fireman Bam by strikers - insists the equipment must not leave fire stations during the impending industrial action, due to start on Tuesday.

He told police that firefighters are not insured to drive the tenders when they are on strike.

And Ord, who has been attacked for his stance on his firefighters' industrial action, added that striking firefighters would be taking the vehicles "without authority".

But last night the firemaster was condemned by union bosses.

Ord was furious when striking firefighters responded to nearby emergencies while on the picket line before Christmas.

At the start of the bitter dispute he ordered the keys to fire engines to be locked in safes at station houses across Scotland.

The strikers won a propaganda victory after leaving picket lines to help save lives.

Glasgow FBU branch secretary Sandy McNiven hit out at Ord's stance.

He said: "It is disgusting. The men have been told they will not be covered by the brigade's insurance while on strike and if we respond to emergencies we could be breaking the law.

"I would think a lot of the firefighters would think twice about helping people in trouble on Tuesday, now that Mr Ord has guaranteed a criminal conviction for anyone who does.

"It is up to individual firefighters whether they want to risk that to attend a nearby incident or stay where they are.

"We certainly would not recommend that they drive any great distance to attend an incident, given Mr Ord's latest tactic. This is the same man who locked the keys of the tenders in safes because he didn't like firefighters to be seen as wanting to do their jobs and help people.

"We just hope that the Scottish people realise the man they have labelled Fireman Bam has come up with yet another devious device to stop the support we are getting.

"We are glad to say it will not work."

Controversial Ord is the only Scottish fire chief not to back the pay claim.

He has also angered his fellow fire chiefs by backing modernisation plans that called for joint control rooms. One Scots fire chief has already quit his own union post in disgust after a row over how Firemaster Ord is refusing to back his own firefighters.

Grampian Firemaster John Williams resigned as secretary of the Chief and Assistant Chief Fire Officers Association last week.

With another 24-hour strike looming on Tuesday, Mr Williams felt he had to go.

He said: "I can confirm I have resigned from my post. I think we all need to reflect on what is being said in the hope that an agreement can be reached."

Four months ago it was revealed that Firemaster Ord had given himself a pounds 22,000 a year rise - more than a fully qualified firefighter's basic wage of just over pounds 21,500.

And he also bought a top-of-the-range Mercedes car from fire brigade funds for his use.

Mr Ord was not available last night.

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman declined to comment and said a statement would be made tomorrow regarding the handling of the industrial action.

The strike action begins on Tuesday and lasts from 8am until Wednesday at 8am.

That day could then be followed by two 48-hour stoppages, which would begin on January 28 and February 1.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 19, 2003
Words:578
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