One Oxfordshire lock keeper, who didn't want to be named, said he had used his safety ladder three times already this year to rescue people who had fallen in the river.
He said: "This proposal is seriously dangerous, and the fact they haven't even asked us whether we can use our ladders is bizarre.
"You only need to Google 'carbon fibre ladders' and you can find lightweight ladders – there must be some reason behind this other than safety."
With regard to the proposed ban on fire extinguishers he said: "They have told us we should throw them a life ring, phone the fire brigade, then stand there and watch.
"Given how remote some of our sites are, it's just ridiculous – the fire service is under enough pressure."
Another Oxfordshire keeper said: "Every single lock keeper is up in arms about it. "What do they expect us to do, just stand there watching people drown?"Well, public sector employees often have no problems with that…
But what’s prompted this move? Is it the ubiquitous ‘elf n’ safety?
… in a letter seen by the Oxford Mail, EA waterways manager Andrew Graham told lock keepers: "Our water training and rescue providers have recently reviewed our use of fire extinguishers at lock sites and have advised fire extinguishers should be present only if risk assessment requires it for staff to extinguish small fires or escape from buildings on the lock. "If the EA provides fire extinguishers for public to use on board boats in the lock, there is a duty of care and a liability issue, so would recommend they are removed from public areas. EA staff should not be fighting fires on boats in the lock."Aha! No, it’s more the propensity of the increasingly bovine British public, goaded by ambulance-chasing shysters, to sue at the drop of a hat for the slightest little thing that they think they can claim is someone else’s fault.
The letter concluded: "Having extinguishers at lock sites would leave the temptation for our dedicated and committed staff to use them, despite not being trained to do so, in the process putting themselves at risk.
"It could also lead to a false sense of safety to boaters."Doesn’t that apply to any public safety equipment, then?