With a strike looking likely over pension reform Ian Hayton, chief fire officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade, was left with a serious problem. About 95 per cent of firemen and women in Cleveland are members of the union, higher than other areas. And Cleveland is also in a worse position than North Yorkshire and Durham where most auxiliaries and middle managers are expected to answer the call if a strike is announced.
A radical plan was needed. For the first time in its history the brigade issued an appeal to the public, to people who have never sat in a fire engine in their lives, to come forward.Woohoo!
Mr Lancaster explained that all 160 were put through some serious tests, before they were even considered for training.
First they all had to do a series of 20 metre runs against the clock and then run with dumb bells. They were also put in rooms filled with cosmetic smoke, tested on ladder climbs and towers to see how they could handle heights and observed dealing with breathing apparatus.Oh. Maybe not! I hate heights, and I work with a bunch of dumb bells, so running with them doesn't appeal...